Mexico wall fails to get support from US House but partial government shutdown ended
The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives has passed a legislative package aimed at ending the partial government shutdown without paying for President Donald Trump's border wall, drawing a veto threat from the White House. The first bill passed by the House on Thursday in a 239-192 vote was a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 that would not allocate any new wall spending.
Five Republicans joined Democrats in approving the legislation. Then, the House voted 241-190 to approve funds for six agencies, including Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, Labour, Treasury and other agencies through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year, CNN reported. The package will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to be blocked. This will leave congressional Democrats and the administration at a stalemate, with the partial shutdown no closer to getting resolved. It has affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have either been furloughed or have had to work without pay.
Trump has said he will reject any measure that does not provide $5 billion in funding for his wall on the Mexican border. Newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the proposed border wall as "waste of money". "We're asking the President to open up government," she told the Today show before the first session of the new House. "We have given the Republicans a chance to take yes for an answer." Democrats say that Trump was holding government funding hostage for the wall, which they feel was "unnecessary and ineffective".
Congressional leaders from both parties were expected to meet the President for another round of budget talks at the White House on Friday. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will not back measures that Trump does not support and called the Democrats' move a "total non-starter" and a "political sideshow". As of Thursday, 102 women serve in the House, an all-time high, including 36 newly-elected members and a record 43 women of colour.
The new members included the first Muslim congresswoman -- Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, who took her oath on the Quran -- and Minnesota's Ilhan Omar, who became the first person to wear a hijab in Congress. New Mexico's Debra Haaland and Kansas' Sharice Davids were the first Native American congresswomen in the House, while New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. The White House had issued a veto threat against the legislative package ahead of the House vote. The partial government shutdown stretched into its 13th day on Thursday, when the new Democratic House majority was sworn in.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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