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As 2019 Begins, Trump And Democrats Disagree Over Government Funding

Jan 1, 2019
Originally published on January 1, 2019 7:11 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

On this first day of 2019, the power in Washington is about to shift. On Thursday, Democrats take the House majority. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

On the eve of the new year, Democrats announced a new plan for reopening the federal government, but Republicans have already signaled they are unlikely to accept that deal. I'm joined now by NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe. Hey, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So what can you tell us about the Democrats' spending package? What does it look like? Is it - is it an earnest effort at a compromise?

RASCOE: Well, I'm sure they would say it is, but as with many things these days, Republicans would probably disagree. So it is some concrete action where up until now, you've had a lot of talk. Basically, it would provide a year of funding for most departments and agencies that are currently shut down. And then for the Department of Homeland Security, where this whole fight over the wall is happening, it would just provide this stop-gap fund - spending bill, basically pushing the issue back to February.

But there is no wall or barrier funding in this. So it's not clear it's going to go anywhere. Trump has said you cannot have border security without a wall, and Republicans in the Senate say they're not going to bring anything up that Trump won't sign. So even if this passes, it's not clear that - that anything will happen with the legislation that Democrats pass.

MARTIN: But they have to negotiate. I mean, they have to find a way out of this moment. Does either side have any leverage left?

RASCOE: So at this point, it seems like what the White House is focused on is trying to pressure the Democrats with the shutdown, with people being out of work saying, look, you have to come to the table, and you have to kind of show that you care about border security by giving us this money for the wall. But, of course, President Trump is making this case after Republicans lost the House in the midterms. So his leverage is greatly diminished.

And the Democrats, they're coming in kind of with the wind at their backs in the House at least. And they're saying, look, we want border security but not a wall. And they - which they don't think is effective - and they are also going to throw into President Trump's face that he said that he would own a shutdown and he would take responsibility for it and that Mexico is supposed to pay for this, even though Trump is saying that Mexico is going to indirectly pay for this.

But as you said, something has to give. There - there are hundreds of thousands of people not getting paid. And so the question is who is going to give, and what that might look like.

MARTIN: President Trump closed out 2018 with an interview with Fox News. And we've got a clip of what he said. Let's play that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm in Washington. I'm ready, willing and able. I'm in the White House. I'm ready to go. They can come over right now. They could have come over any time. I spent Christmas in the White House. I spent New Year's Eve now in the White House. And, you know, I'm here. I'm ready to go.

MARTIN: Sounds like he's just sitting there, waiting for the Democrats to come over and knock on the door. Presumably, he's in the mood to negotiate?

RASCOE: Well, he's in the mood to talk. I don't know about negotiating. That's the question. Like, what is he going to give the Democrats that would make them come to the table? Because what the White House has been offering has not been enough. So what can they give to them that would make the Democrats want to make a deal? That's the question.

MARTIN: NPR's Ayesha Rascoe, thanks so much.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.