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How The Late George H.W. Bush Killed The Border Wall

Soon to be departed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have announced that, out of respect for the late President George H.W. Bush, Congress will have a very light schedule this week.

What this means is that Ryan and McConnell are cynically using the lying-in-state and funeral arrangements for the late President to give air cover to their government by crisis strategy to kill border wall funding and other Paul Ryan speaks in rotundaTrump agenda items that will be DOA in next year’s Democrat controlled House of Representatives.

As Michael Collins of USA TODAY reported, the government will run out of money at midnight Dec. 7 unless Congress passes a spending bill to keep the lights on. If lawmakers fail to act, some government agencies will no longer have the necessary funding to keep operating and will be forced to close their doors.

Congress already has approved five bills providing funding for the areas of defense, energy and water, labor, health and human services, the legislative branch and veterans affairs. President Trump has signed those into law, so those departments are funded for the remainder of this fiscal year.

But, as Mr. Collins reported, seven other spending bills are still awaiting congressional action. The bills that need approval would fund the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, as well as several smaller agencies.

Those are departments and agencies that would be affected by a government shutdown, and there are a number of items in those departments that Democrats want defunded or otherwise killed-off.

Democrats have little interest in providing the $5 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico report Catherine Lucey and Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press.

And even some Republicans balk at spending more than the $1.6 billion already provided claim Lucey and Mascaro. However, the President has signaled he’s ready to fight for the money as one of the last big-ticket items of the GOP-led Congress before Democrats take over the House in the new year.

Trump tweeted Monday: “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” He did not provide any evidence for the savings, but again threatened to close the “entire Southern Border if necessary.”

President Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Saturday he would be willing to sign a two-week government funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush, whose lying-in-state is set for Wednesday.

“I would absolutely consider it and probably give it,” he told reporters. The White House is expecting that to be between 7 and 14 days, said a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The president invited the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to the White House for a meeting Tuesday, Lucey and Mascaro reported. However, the meeting may be postponed, either out of respect for the late President Bush or due to lack of progress in the negotiations.

The problem with a two-week continuing resolution is that it plays right into the hands of those Republicans who oppose the Wall and other items on the President’s agenda. Congress has just two weeks to wrap up the session before Christmas because keeping defeated and retiring Republicans in DC to pass President Trump’s agenda beyond then is unlikely to happen.

Meaning Ryan and McConnell start giving away Trump agenda items to get bills moved through Congress, and first on the chopping block will the funding for the Wall.

McConnell already washed his hands of any responsibility for getting the Wall funded, saying it’s up to Trump “to do a deal with the Democrats,” and telling reporters in Louisville, “I think that’s the path to getting a signature and avoiding a government shutdown.”

What’s more, the wall funding in the Department of Homeland Security appropriation isn’t the only important agenda item in jeopardy in the yearend appropriations crisis.

Also under attack is a major conservative priority in the Commerce appropriation; the citizenship question on the Census form.

In March, President Donald Trump’s administration announced they would put the citizenship question back on the census. It has not been included since 1950 giving a congressional apportionment advantage to illegal alien-heavy states, such as California.

The citizenship question “should be removed ... and I believe all options should be on the table in Congress to do so, including through the appropriations process,” Representative Jose Serrano of New York, who is in line to chair the House subcommittee that funds the census, told Reuters.

Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Washington state and also a member of the subcommittee, told Reuters he would “pursue action with my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to block the inclusion of the citizenship question.”

The Census citizenship question, work requirements for food stamps and other welfare and of course the border wall are all in jeopardy in the yearend government-by-crisis game that Ryan and McConnell are playing, and using the funeral of the late President to make their machinations more believable is a new low in their cynical manipulation of the congressional appropriations process.

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