Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to approve $5 billion for the construction of President Trump's long-promised southern border wall when Congress returns after the Nov. 6 election.
McConnell, R-Ky., told the Washington Examiner Thursday the Senate won’t stick to the $1.6 billion wall funding included in the Senate’s 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations measure. Instead, it will try to raise the amount to match the House Homeland spending bill, which includes $5 billion for the wall.
“We are going to try really hard to get the money the president would like this year for the border wall ,” McConnell told the Washington Examiner.
Trump has been clamoring for additional billions to construct new barriers along the southern border, but election-year jitters left the GOP wary of a spending fight with Democrats, who oppose wall funding.
[More: DHS orders border agency to bypass environmental rules to start 18-mile border wall in Texas]
To avoid the fight, Homeland Security funding was carried over into the new fiscal year in a temporary funding measure that expires in mid-December. That means Congress must come up with a deal to provide more funding by that deadline, or face a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security department.
Senate Democrats, who have the votes to block spending measures they don’t like, said they’ll oppose the $5 billion wall funding figure because they believe it’s more money than can be spent in a single year on the wall.
“I’ll vote against that,” Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told the Washington Examiner Thursday.
Democratic objection leaves a post-election spending deal in doubt. McConnell would not indicate whether he is willing to push the funding fight to the point of allowing a partial shutdown.
Trump has signaled he is running out of patience. He’s tweeted several times about the lack of wall funding and has suggested he won’t sign another spending measure unless the money is included.
“They don't want to do anything before the election because they think we're going to do well,” Trump said Thursday during an extensive interview on Fox and Friends. “But right after the election we're doing something very strong on the wall. We need the wall, because we have people coming in. Now, we've done a great job considering we don't have a wall. We need the wall. That's another tool of success and we need the wall. And it’s happening.”