UPDATED with Senate vote and White House confirmation, 1 PM: The White House has confirmed what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today: President Donald Trump will sign the bipartisan bill to fund the government and avoid another shutdown — and POTUS also will follow through on his plan to declare a national emergency in order to build his wall at the southern border.
The country has been facing the threat of a second government shutdown in two months at midnight ET Friday.
“For all of my colleagues,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, “the president will sign the bill.” The senator said he had spoken to the president.
At 4 p.m. D.C. time, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill to avoid the shutdown. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will plan votes on the bill later today, after many members return from the funeral of longtime Rep. Walter Jones in North Carolina.
Senate Republicans have been on pins and needles as to whether Trump would sign the legislation that has been hammered out during the past week-plus. Now comes the mini-bombshell that the president plans to follow through with his national emergency — a ploy McConnell had advised him against doing.
Now Congress can get the ball rolling on the government funding bill, which has support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislation also includes more funding for some kind of barrier at the border. But lawmakers thought they had a deal to dodge the previous shutdown in December but were Trumped by the president then refusing to sign it. That led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Predictably, Democrats are skeptical of the news. As to whether the Dems would put up a legal challenge to a potential emergency declaration by the president, Pelosi told reporters, “That’s an option, and we’ll review our options.” But she added, “First of all, it’s not an emergency, what’s happening at the border. … The president has tried to sell a bill of goods to America … making an end run around Congress.”