US Congress approves short-term spending bill to avert shutdown

From Al Jazeera:


Chuck Schumer says the $1.6bn Democrats have said they would agree to could not be used for Trump’s border wall [Reuters]

US Congress on Thursday approved a two-week stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown, setting up a potential showdown over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall later this month.

Without action by Congress, funding for several federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, State Department and Department of Homeland Security, had been set to expire this week. The stopgap bill extends funding through December 21.

Before the stopgap bill expires, the Republican-led Congress is expected to consider a $450bn bill to fund the departments through the fiscal year that ends next September 30.

Trump has demanded $5bn this year as part of his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico that Democrats argue would be ineffective at keeping out undocumented immigrants and illicit drugs.

Instead, Democrats want to continue improving less costly fencing and employing high-tech instruments to detect irregular border crossings. They have agreed to include $1.6bn for additional border security.

“Let me be clear: the $1.6bn cannot be used to construct any part of President Trump’s 30-foot-tall concrete border wall. It can only be used for fencing, using technology currently deployed at the border, and only where the experts say fencing is appropriate and makes sense,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday.

Trump has threatened to force a partial government shutdown if Congress does not give him the money he wants for the wall.



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