- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2018

President Trump on Friday signed a stopgap spending bill into law that will keep the government running through Dec. 21, setting up a pre-Christmas showdown with Congress over his desired U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The House and the Senate cleared the legislation on Thursday, as lawmakers buy more time to negotiate the seven 2019 spending bills they have yet to pass.

Congress has already passed — and Mr. Trump has signed — five of the 12 annual spending bills for 2019. Those cover approximately 70 percent to 75 percent of the federal government’s discretionary accounts, and departments like Defense, Labor, and Health are fully funded through next September.

Lawmakers say they’re close to striking final deals on six of the outstanding seven spending bills, but the homeland security bill has gotten held up in a battle over funding for the border wall.

Mr. Trump says he wants $5 billion for the wall — in line with the House’s DHS spending bill. But Democrats say the president should accept the $1.6 billion for border security the Senate included in its bill.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday floated an idea where Congress would pass new, full-year funding for the six bills they generally agree on, which would include funding for the Justice Department, NASA, and the IRS.

Lawmakers would then pass another stopgap bill for homeland security that would extend funding at 2018 levels.

But Republican leaders quickly said Mr. Trump was unlikely to back that plan. The “omnibus” spending bill for 2018 that passed in March included $1.6 billion for fence construction and border security — well below what Mr. Trump is seeking.

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