President Trump’s signature will be needed one last time on a government spending bill before he leaves office, but a deal could be complicated once again by a dispute over border wall funding.
Democrats and Republicans are aiming for an accord on fiscal year 2021 spending ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline, when temporary funding runs out.
Both parties are eager to strike a deal, but they are far apart on funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security and border wall construction.
Trump, who is contesting the results of the election, requested $2 billion for the wall in the coming fiscal year, and Senate Republicans included $1.96 billion for it in their 2021 spending package.
Completing a wall along the southern border was among Trump’s top 2016 campaign promises and is poised to serve as a key part of his political legacy as he departs the White House.
Each year, he battled Democrats for wall funding in annual government spending measures, and the partisan dispute over the wall triggered a weekslong, partial government shutdown two years ago.
Some lawmakers fear it could happen again this year.
House Democrats, who control the chamber, have zeroed out wall funding for 2021 and included a provision to block Trump from shifting money to wall construction from other accounts.
The House measure also cuts money for Customs and Border Protection and reduces additional money for Border Patrol agents.
Trump may be unwilling to sign any long-term spending deal that excludes wall funding, which would force Congress to pass another short-term measure, called a continuing resolution.
“He has the veto power,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, said.
Both parties will be out of town next week and will return for at least two weeks in December.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that she does not support passing another short-term spending bill.
But with a Biden presidency just around the corner, Democrats are unlikely to yield on the wall funding. Democrats staunchly oppose any new border barrier, and President-elect Joe Biden said he plans to provide a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrants when he takes office.
Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott announced this week that 402 miles of the wall have been completed and more than 300 miles are under or nearly under construction.
Pelosi said the two parties are working out the smaller details of a spending agreement before trying to hammer out a deal on the major provisions.
“We must keep government open. That’s a very important responsibility during the lame duck,” Pelosi said. “We don’t want another continuing resolution. I don’t think they do either.”