Washington: The Democrat-controlled US House ofRepresentatives has passed a legislative package aimed at ending the partialgovernment shutdown without paying for President Donald Trump’s border wall,drawing a veto threat from the White House. The first bill passed by the Houseon Thursday in a 239-192 vote was a continuing resolution funding theDepartment of Homeland Security through February 8 that would not allocate anynew wall spending. Five Republicans joined Democrats in approving thelegislation.
Then, theHouse voted 241-190 to approve funds for six agencies, including Departments ofState, Commerce, Agriculture, Labour, Treasury and other agencies throughSeptember 30, the end of the current fiscal year, CNN reported. The packagewill now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to beblocked. This will leave congressional Democrats and the administration at astalemate, with the partial shutdown no closer to getting resolved. It hasaffected hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have either beenfurloughed or have had to work without pay.
Trump has saidhe will reject any measure that does not provide $5 billion in funding for hiswall on the Mexican border. Newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticizedthe proposed border wall as “waste of money”. “We’re asking thePresident to open up government,” she told the Today show before the firstsession of the new House. “We have given the Republicans a chance to takeyes for an answer.” Democrats say that Trump was holding governmentfunding hostage for the wall, which they feel was “unnecessary andineffective”.
Congressionalleaders from both parties were expected to meet the President for another roundof budget talks at the White House on Friday. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will not backmeasures that Trump does not support and called the Democrats’ move a“total non-starter” and a “political sideshow”. As ofThursday, 102 women serve in the House, an all-time high, including 36newly-elected members and a record 43 women of colour.
The newmembers included the first Muslim congresswoman — Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib,who took her oath on the Quran — and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, who became thefirst person to wear a hijab in Congress. New Mexico’s Debra Haaland andKansas’ Sharice Davids were the first Native American congresswomen in theHouse, while New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest womanto be elected to Congress.
The WhiteHouse had issued a veto threat against the legislative package ahead of theHouse vote. The partial government shutdown stretched into its 13th day onThursday, when the new Democratic House majority was sworn in.