Nancy Pelosi elected Speaker as Democrats vote to end shutdown with ‘nothing’ for Donald Trump’s border wall – Donald Trump’s America
US Democrats have voted to end the partial government shutdown without providing US$5 billion ($7.14 billion) in funding for President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.
- Nancy Pelosi was confirmed as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives
- A Democrat bill to end the shutdown would be unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate
- Mr Trump accused the Democrats of using the shutdown as a political play for the 2020 election
With Nancy Pelosi reclaiming her role as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Democrats wasted no time flexing their new power.
They used their first day as the majority to pass a bill that would end the shutdown while temporarily funding the Department of Homeland Security at current levels – with $US1.3 billion for border security – through to February 8 so bipartisan talks can continue.
The resolution was passed by 239 votes to 192 as Mr Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House briefing room pledging to keep up the fight for his signature campaign promise.
The House also approved a separate measure to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown.
The first day of the new Congress marked the first day of divided government in Washington since Mr Trump took office in January 2017.
Democrats have taken control in the House from the Republicans, who remain in charge of the Senate.
The 2019-2020 Congress begins work with roughly a quarter of the federal government closed, affecting 800,000 employees, in a shutdown triggered by Mr Trump’s demand last month for the money for a wall along the US-Mexican border — strongly opposed by Democrats — as part of any legislation funding government agencies.
National parks have closed campgrounds for fear that toilets will overflow. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay. The immigration courts, already overburdened, are largely closed.
Congressional leaders from both parties held unproductive talks with Mr Trump at the White House on Wednesday and are to return for another round on Friday, a sign the shutdown is likely to continue for the rest of the week.
Pelosi to Trump: ‘We’re not doing a wall’
Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate should “take yes for an answer” and approve the border bill, which was virtually identical to a plan the Senate adopted on a voice vote last month.
“We’re not doing a wall. Does anyone have any doubt that we’re not doing a wall?” she said.
“Nothing for the wall.”
She added that Mr Trump’s proposed wall and demand for US funding was “a wall between reality and his constituents”.
The US-Mexico border is partially fenced, with large gaps in many areas.
The Democrats are offering funding that could be used to improve the existing fencing, but Mr Trump wants to build a wall along the entire 3,100-kilometre stretch.
Mr Trump made the wall a key campaign promise in 2016, saying Mexico would pay for it and arguing it is needed to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
But Democrats have called the wall immoral, ineffective and medieval.
Mr Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Democrats of playing politics, writing “the Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election”.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday his chamber, still in Republican hands, would not vote on the Democratic legislation, calling it a “political sideshow” and “total non-starter”.