WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday added $5 billion to a government spending bill for President Donald Trump’s wall on the southern border with Mexico, a move that boosted the odds of a partial federal shutdown on Saturday.
The bill must return to the Senate, where it is unlikely to find the Democratic votes needed to pass it. If the impasse continues, funding for agencies responsible for federal law enforcement activities, airport security screenings, space exploration and farm programs will lapse at midnight on Friday.
Trump had said he would not sign a Senate-passed bill to keep the government running through Feb. 8 because it lacked funds for the wall, so Republicans in the House of Representatives scrambled to add money to appease Trump.
Trump demanded $5 billion to put toward his campaign promise to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico that he argues is needed to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, a down payment on a massive project which Democrats have rejected as ineffective and wasteful.
“The bill that’s on the floor of the House, everyone knows will not pass the Senate,” Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters ahead of the vote.
The funding uncertainty weighed on markets on Thursday but was dwarfed by another bombshell on the Trump administration after the close: the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump, who accused Democrats of playing politics with the border wall, has said he sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign. Last week in a White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, he said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
Hard-right conservative pundits and lawmakers have urged Trump to push for border wall funding now, even if it leads to a shutdown, arguing that it would be impossible to get once Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3.
“It’s really about a president that is not willing to fold without a fight,” Republican Representative Mark Meadows said in an interview on Fox News.
Trump had planned to leave Washington for a two-week vacation at his private resort in Florida, but the White House said he would not go in the event of a shutdown.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, Steve Holland and Ginger Gibson; additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Susan Heavey, Makini Brice, Mohammad Zargham and Chuck Mikolajczak; Writing by Roberta Rampton; editing by Bill Trott, Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman