White House cites ‘options’ for funding U.S. border wall

Vastavam web: The White House said on Tuesday it was searching for ways to unilaterally fund the building of a controversial wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that Congress is balking at, possibly easing chances of a government shutdown this weekend. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters President Donald Trump has asked his Cabinet agencies to “look and see if they have money that can be used” to begin building the wall.

On Tuesday, Trump said it was too early to say whether a partial government shutdown will be averted by a Friday midnight deadline when existing funds for several agencies expire. “We’ll see what happens,” he told. The new Congress that convenes on Jan. 3 would then have to grapple with the budget impasse.

Given the continued uncertainty, however, federal agencies began publicizing their plans in case of a partial government shutdown. The State Department, for example, said its consular operations, both domestic and abroad, would continue “as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations.” However, passport agencies might not operate if they are located in government buildings affected by the lapse in appropriations.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “slush fund” that was promptly rejected. Democrats, along with some Republicans, oppose the wall as a costly, ineffective border security tool. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, referring to the prospects of a bill to extend current spending for a short period, such as a few weeks “might be the only route forward considering the time constraints we face.” Schumer said Democrats would “very seriously consider” such a move.

Failure to agree to new appropriations by that deadline could leave about a quarter of the federal workforce without paychecks and some federal programs shuttered until the impasse is resolved. Trump has demanded $5 billion as a down payment on construction of a wall, which was a key pledge of his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump originally said Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused.