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US government shutdown looms over Trump's border wall funding

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Central American migrant surrenders to US Border Patrol agents after jumping over the metal barrier into the US from Playas de Tijuana in Mexico, on December 2, 2018, (AFP photo)

Washington is on the brink of another partial government shutdown as Democrats and Republicans in Congress spar over how to resolve a standoff over President Donald Trump's demand for building a wall on the US-Mexico border.

The threat of a partial shutdown looms large with just five days to go before funding expires on December 7 for several government agencies.

A shutdown would be the second of the year, following a three-day partial government shutdown in January over the status of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Trump wants $5 billion in funding to construct a wall on America’s southern border as part of any agreement to sign a package of the remaining funding bills for the next fiscal year.

“There is a possible shutdown if we don’t get the wall,” Trump said Thursday as he departed the White House for the G20 Summit in Argentina. “If we don’t get border security, possible shutdown.”

Republicans support Trump’s aggressive push for funding. But they need Democrats to support the proposal in the Senate to pass the 60-vote threshold, complicating any funding negotiations.

Republicans still control both chambers of Congress and the White House. That will not change until Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the new Congress in January. 

Democrats have rejected a Republican proposal to extend the $5 billion in border funding over two years.

“No matter how many years you spread it over, $5 billion for President Trump’s wasteful wall is too much money,” Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

“House Democrats will continue to stand firm in opposition to the border wall boondoggle and, while we are willing to negotiate on how best to secure our border, we will never support wasting tax dollars on a wall designed to gin up the Republican base,” she said.

Because Congress has already cleared five of the 12 annual spending bills, a shutdown would only impact certain government departments, and agencies, including the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Agriculture and Commerce.

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