Senate Democrats Block Defense Spending Bill, Cite Trump-Backed Wall

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

The U.S. Senate on Thursday failed to advance a defense spending bill, with Democratic leaders citing President Trump’s military funding over the border wall.

The package of spending was intended for the Department of Defense and departments of Labor, Health and Human Services. Most Democrat withheld their support and the vote was 51-41, falling short of the 60-vote threshold.

“The Republican leader has been accusing Democrats of threatening to block military funding. Now, that is an absurd statement if there ever was one. We’re simply trying to stop Republicans from stealing money from our military and putting it into the wall,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated before the vote was held, according to The Hill.

Republicans slammed the Democrats in the Senate for blocking the passage of the bill.

“The same Democrats who recently rediscovered hawkish sounding positions on Syria and the Middle East are really going to filibuster a $755 million for the counter-ISIS train and equip fund for Iraq and Syria? And filibuster all the other broader funding of our armed services? Really?” Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked, as reported the news outlet.

The Capitol Hill building in Washington, D.C., in a file photo (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The “core message here is hard to miss,” he said, adding that “Democratic colleagues have a priority list, picking fights with the White House is priority No. 1.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, noted that his party would oppose the spending bill because it shifts money to the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“We oppose this bill because we are fighting to protect funding for the men and women in uniform,” said Leahy (D-Vt.), according to Defense News.

This week, White House officials met with Republican and Democratic aides from both the House and Senate over the funding issues, Politico reported.

The Border Patrol, in a video, showed a new section of steel bollard wall near San Luis, Arizona, in August 2019. (Border Patrol)

Current stopgap spending authority expires Nov. 21, and another measure will be needed to prevent a shutdown reprising last year’s 35-day partial shuttering of the government. All sides want to avert a repeat shutdown, but it can’t be entirely ruled out because of the dysfunction and bitterness engulfing Washington these days, according to The Associated Press.

The White House is demanding $5 billion in appropriations for the wall this budget year—up from $1.4 billion now. It is also demanding to keep its powers to transfer Pentagon dollars as well—and to get Congress to refill Pentagon military base construction projects tapped last month to pay for up to $3.6 billion worth of border fencing.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.