Senate Dem Leaders Urge Republicans To Negotiate Bipartisan Spending Allocations Instead Of Stealing Much-Needed Funds From Domestic Priorities And Military Construction Projects To Pay For The President's Border Wall

September 17, 2019

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (D-WA), Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Senate Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), urging Republicans to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown and negotiate bipartisan spending allocations, as opposed to stealing much-needed funds for military projects and domestic priorities, like mental health, opioids treatment, and education, to pay for President Trump’s border wall.

In the letter, the Senators emphasize that Democrats will not support diverting billions of taxpayer dollars—funds allocated to support our military and for investments like college affordability—to pay for an ineffective, border wall that the president promised Mexico would pay for. The Senators urge Republicans to work with Democrats to negotiate bipartisan, bicameral spending allocations.

Senators Schumer, Durbin, Murray, Stabenow, and Leahy’s letter to Leader McConnell and Chairman Shelby can be found here and below:

Dear Leader McConnell and Chairman Shelby:

It was our hope that after working together to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, we could build off that success and deliver a bipartisan appropriations process for the American people.

However, it appears that Republicans are pursuing the same path that led to last year’s 35-day government shutdown—funding the President’s controversial, ineffective wall no matter the cost to the American people.  We were frustrated to see that the Republican spending proposals for Fiscal Year 2020 - the so-called 302(b) allocations - steal $5 billion, primarily from the Labor-HHS-Education bill for programs such as mental health, opioids treatment, and education and allocate it to the President’s border wall.  In addition, there could be another $7.2 billion made available for the President to steal from the Military Construction bill for the border wall, and nothing was included in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill to prevent him from raiding more money from that bill intended for our troops.

As you recall, just nine months ago, President Trump demanded that the American people fund his request for a wall along the border with Mexico – a wall he previously promised Mexico would pay for. President Trump then said he would shut down the federal government if Congress did not fund his wall. Democrats support smart border security investments - but we do not support diverting taxpayer dollars to build an ineffective and controversial wall along our southern border, especially when those funds are stolen from our military and important investments for American families, such as college affordability, and our fight against the opioid crisis.

Democrats have long made clear that we will not support appropriations bills that include these funding allocations. America has a significant deficit of investments in programs our citizens need. At a time when the majority of Americans who need and seek opioids treatment cannot get it, we should not be wasting money on an ineffective border wall.

Let us take the lessons learned from last year’s Trump shutdown and move forward. We ask that you immediately begin working with us to secure bipartisan bicameral 302(b) spending allocations that better reflect our shared commitments to, among many other things, the health of our veterans, funding critical science and technology initiatives, the education of our children, and the safety of our communities.

As the Senate has yet to pass any appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020, we look forward to your timely response.