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After Trump’s About-Face on Border Wall Spending, A Government Shutdown Looms

On Thursday morning, it appeared for all the world that Congressional leadership of both parties and The White House had agreed upon a continuing resolution that would avert a partial government shutdown in the waning days of the 115th Congress, pushing off until February a debate over several spending bills that has been dominated by deliberation over President Trump’s much desired border wall. By Thursday evening, the tenuous agreement amongst Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress had been shattered by President Trump who, upon the urging of hardline conservatives within the GOP and in the right wing media, reversed course and once again opted to support shutting down the government in the service of attaining the $5 billion of border wall funding he has insisted on.

Less than 24 hours after the Senate approved a continuing resolution (CR) that had received President Trump’s blessing and would have extended current funding levels for 7 appropriations bills through February 8, the House narrowly passed their own CR, with the $5 billion in border wall funding that the President had requested attached to it. It remains to be seen how the House CR will be received in the Senate, but all signs point towards its rejection by Senate Democrats, which would set the stage for  partial government shutdown on Friday evening.

President Trump informed House GOP leadership that he would not sign any spending bill that did not include $5 billion for his border wall on Thursday afternoon. This decision to renege on his endorsement appears to have been stoked in large part by the efforts of Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who called the President on Thursday morning and urged him to reject any bill that didn’t include border wall funding. Meadows wasn’t alone in opposing the Congressional GOP’s strategy on the CR, with a closed-door Republican conference meeting earlier Thursday morning showing a great deal of discontent within the party at the prospect of supporting any short-term spending bill that didn’t include border wall funding.

An outstanding issue of particular relevance for those living with HIV that remains up in the air at the present  is funding for the Housing Opportunities For People with AIDS (HOPWA) program in the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development spending bill. The majority of domestic HIV care and treatment funding, including the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, has already been approved and signed into law for fiscal year 2019, but HOPWA funding has been held up with the transportation package. Whether or not a partial government shutdown, AIDS United will be on the Hill with our partner organizations and allies in Congress to encourage the implementation of an $18 million increase to the HOPWA program proposed in the House earlier this year. 

Check back in regularly with AIDS United’s Policy Update for the latest on HIV policy and funding. 

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, December 21, 2018

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