While a budget and debt ceiling deal was reached before the Congress left for its August recess, preventing the threat of a government shutdown before the end of the fiscal year next month, that doesn’t mean spending fights are over. Senate Republicans are starting right now, with a plan to divert $5 billion for health and education funding into Donald Trump’s border wall.
The budget that passed set spending limits for the year, and now it’s up to Congress to devise and pass the actual funding bills in the agency appropriations bills. The largest of the domestic spending bills is the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby has stiffed by about $5 billion in order to funnel the money to the wall. That’s despite the fact that Trump got his damned wall money by shifting it out of Pentagon budgets (including from military pensions).
This is just a purely partisan and unnecessary escalation of the fight by Shelby, undoubtedly directed by Mitch McConnell. They want to keep fighting with Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the wall, and are doing it by specifically targeting the programs that Pelosi argued for so effectively in the budget negotiations. She insisted that there be parity between defense and nondefense budget increases, and got it. So this is Senate Republicans’ punishment for that.
They’re going to need 60 votes to end debate on the bill for final passage. They might get seven Democrats, because, thanks to Pelosi’s negotiations, the appropriations bill is still higher than last year’s. But it will also have to survive a conference with the House, where they’ll get their fight with Pelosi, which seems to be the whole purpose of this exercise.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.