Democrats block Pentagon bill amid border wall battle

AP NEWS | 9/18/2019 | Staff
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats Wednesday blocked debate on the almost $700 billion Pentagon budget and other spending bills amid a feud between the chamber’s leaders over the rules of engagement for translating this summer’s hard-won budget deal into binding legislation.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer orchestrated the party-line filibuster vote, claiming Senate GOP leaders were doing President Donald Trump’s bidding on the U.S.-Mexico border fence and paying for it by shortchanging health and education programs. Both sides accused the other of violating the bipartisan spirit of July’s budget blueprint, which gave Trump a must-have increase in the government’s borrowing limit and new spending “caps” to avert sweeping cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs.

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Democrats are chiefly upset that the Senate GOP would permit Trump to again shift money from military accounts to wall funding that he has otherwise been unable to win from Congress. He’s seeking $5 billion more after winning only $1.4 billion for the current year.

“It does nothing to prevent the president from stealing billions of dollars more from our troops to pay for the president’s cynical campaign promise to build a gigantic wall across our southern border,” said top Appropriations Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. “The president has already raided $6.1 billion from Department of Defense accounts in the fiscal year 2019 bills for his border wall — all without congressional approval.”

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Also at play is Democrats’ desire to hold the Pentagon budget back as leverage in future endgame negotiations.

Republicans countered that Democrats are injecting abortion- and wall-related fights with Trump into a time-tested appropriations process that relies on bipartisanship and compromise that is in increasingly short supply in the halls of Congress.

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“Congressional leaders and the president laid the groundwork for sensible, bipartisan funding process. But instead over the past week and a half we’ve seen our Democratic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: AP NEWS
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