Unclear whether the meeting will involve actual negotiations on how to reopen portions of the federal government…
(Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times) WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has invited top congressional leaders to a briefing on border security Wednesday, the first time the lawmakers have been to the White House since before a partial government shutdown began Dec. 22.
It is unclear whether the meeting will involve actual negotiations on how to reopen portions of the federal government that have been closed in a dispute over President Donald Trump’s request for $5 billion for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
There has been little negotiation between the administration and Congress over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The top eight congressional leaders will get a briefing from Department of Homeland Security officials on border security, according to congressional aides.
The briefing comes a day before the start of the new Congress — in which political control of the House will flip from Republicans to Democrats.
Democratic leaders have promised a vote Thursday to reopen the government; their plan does not include money for a wall.
Trump has said he would not support a money bill that doesn’t include funds for the wall.
Last month, however, the administration sent mixed signals on what the president would sign, leading the Senate to unanimously support a bill with no wall funds.
The Democratic plan calls for the House to pass two funding bills. One would reopen all the closed agencies except Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year that ends in September.
The other would fund Homeland Security until Feb. 8, allowing the department to operate normally while negotiations continue.
But the bill may not move unless the White House reverses its position on the wall money.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will not bring up a spending bill for Senate consideration unless it has Trump’s support.
The Democrats’ stopgap funding for the Homeland Security Department would not provide money for the wall, but would extend the department’s authority to spend $1.3 billion approved in the last budget for border security.
Under that authorization, no money can be spent for a wall.
The Democrats’ plan is similar to what the Senate passed unanimously in mid-December in an attempt to avoid the shutdown.
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that “it would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported.”
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