September 13, 2018 / 10:17 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Congress aim to delay border wall funding fight until December

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Congress negotiators on Thursday moved to put off until after the Nov. 6 elections decisions on future funding for President Donald Trump’s multibillion-dollar southwest border wall, as lawmakers advanced legislation funding many other government programs.

Racing against a Sept. 30 deadline when the current fiscal year ends, Republicans and Democrats were showing unusual cooperation in trying to fund most federal agency functions and avoid an embarrassing government shutdown about a month before congressional elections.

A trio of massive spending bills were making their way through Congress to fund military, energy and a range of other programs that otherwise would run out of money on Oct. 1.

But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said that some decisions will have to be put off until Dec. 7, after congressional elections.

That means that Congress would continue to fund agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security at current year levels on a temporary basis.

In recent weeks, Trump has threatened a government shutdown unless he got the money he wanted to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants and illegal drugs out of the United States.

A White House spokeswoman would not say whether Trump would go along with Congress’ plans if lawmakers did not immediately meet his demand for more border wall funding.

“We look forward to reviewing the bill when it’s released,” said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Trump campaigned for president in 2016 vowing to build a wall that he said Mexico would finance.

But Mexico has balked and Trump instead has had to turn to Congress for construction funds. Lawmakers provided $1.57 billion this year for physical barriers and related technology along the southwest border.

Some have estimated the total cost of the edifice at more than $24 billion.

Reporting By Richard Cowan; editing by Grant McCool

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