House GOP Doesn’t Have Votes To Fund Trump’s Border Wall

House Republicans reportedly don't have the votes to fund the President's border wall.

The Hill  is reporting that House Republicans are finding that they might not have the votes for the $5 billion that President Trump wants for his border wall:

House Republicans are struggling to come up with a strategy to fulfill President Trump’s demand that the lower chamber pass a funding bill that includes $5 billion for his promised border wall.

By Wednesday evening, GOP leaders still had not settled on what vehicle they would use to fund the wall or if they would even take a vote this week to do so. Lawmakers in the House have until Dec. 21 to avert a partial government shutdown and are only scheduled to work four of those days.

“The president is still interested in trying to get a deal,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill as he emerged from a leadership meeting in Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office just off the House floor. “He’s been advocating for $5 billion to everybody, not just Republicans. … We support the objective of making sure the president has the money he needs to secure the border.”

In an explosive meeting in the Oval Office a day earlier, Trump told Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he could easily push $5 billion in wall funding through the House. Pelosi told him the bill would fail spectacularly — and dared him to try.

Now, Scalise, Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are under enormous pressure to prove their ally in the White House was correct and that Pelosi, the likely incoming Speaker, was wrong.

But it was still unclear late in the day whether Republicans would have enough votes to pass such a package on a party-line vote. Democrats have agreed to back $1.6 billion for border security but have rejected Trump’s $5 billion demand.

Scalise’s team did not whip a $5 billion wall package Wednesday, but they did a “bed check” to figure out which lawmakers were in the Capitol voting. Since the Nov. 6 midterm election, scores of lawmakers, including those who lost their seats and others who won higher office, have been skipping votes, complicating vote-counting efforts.

Twenty-four lawmakers missed the vote on the farm bill Wednesday, including 17 Republicans. Among them were Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who won a Senate seat; Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who won her governor’s race; and retiring Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).

House GOP appropriators told The Hill that one possible way to fulfill Trump’s vow for a wall was to put forth a short-term stopgap measure known as a continuing resolution that would partially fund the government into January or longer. The appropriators’ package could include the $5 billion for the wall, plus emergency disaster aid for wildfires in the West and other natural disasters.

Sources said any continuing resolution could become a “Christmas tree,” with leaders loading it up with sexual harassment legislation, a renewal of flood insurance and other year-end items.

If House Republicans can muster the votes, it’s possible the Senate would then strip out the $5 billion for the wall and send a continuing resolution back to the House with the pared-down $1.6 billion for border security.

Democrats have offered a continuing resolution on the Homeland Security spending bill, which would maintain the 2018 funding level of $1.6 billion for border security through the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. In addition, they would agree to either continuing resolutions or new appropriation bills for the unfunded portions of the government.

Still, Trump remains the wild card. Even if Congress reaches a deal to fund the government, Trump still could veto the bill if it doesn’t include his full $5 billion request for the wall. In fact, during his meeting Tuesday with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump said he would relish the chance to shut down the government.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump said in an exchange with Schumer. “People in this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country.”

Until now, most of the attention on the issue of whether or not Congress would accede to the President’s demand to provide at least $5 billion toward his border wall, which is estimated would ultimately cost somewhere between $20-50 billion to complete, or face the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of next week. The principal blockade in that body, of course, are Senate Democrats who would be able to block a funding bill that includes that much money for a wall by denying it the votes it would need to pass a Cloture Motion. In addition to resistance from Senate Democrats, there are also several Senate Republicans who have expressed doubt about providing Trump with the money he wants for a project that, at this point, looks like it will never be fully funded in any case.

Based on this report, though, it appears that Republicans may not even be able to get border wall funding through the House of Representatives. After the meeting earlier this week between the President, Speaker-to-be Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, it’s obvious that Democrats aren’t going to give the President any ground on the issue. Therefore, if Republicans are going to get this through the House, they’re going to need a majority of their own caucus to support it. The problem is that thanks to both a large number of Republicans who either retired this year or lost their seats, there are a number of Republicans who simply aren’t showing up for votes or who don’t really feel as if they owe House GOP Leadership anything at this point. There’s little that Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy can do to force these soon to no longer be Members of Congress, especially given the fact that many of them aren’t even in Washington, D.C. to begin with. Given that, it’s hard to see how any budget or Continuing Resolution makes it through the House without some Democratic support, and that’s not likely to come as long as the $5 billion for the wall remains in place.

The final piece of the puzzle, of course, is President Trump, who said earlier this week that he’s perfectly willing to shut the government down over the issue of wall funding and perfectly willing to take the blame if that happens. While that would probably be seen as a negotiating tactic from any other President, with this President it’s something that has to be taken seriously. Given that, we’ve got about a week of drama ahead of us as we wait and see if we’re headed for a government shutdown. Logic would tell us that the answer is no and that, at the very least, Congress will kick the can down the road to January. In that case, though, the incoming Democratic-controlled House means that funding for the President’s border wall would basically be dead on arrival. Thus, the Administration may see this as a last stand on an issue that was a central part of the 2016 campaign for the White House and therefore feels obligated to fight. If that’s the case, then it’s not going to be a very joy-filled holiday in Washington this year.



FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    Didn’t Pelosi tell Trump, in the notorious meeting, that he might not have the votes in the House? Nancy Smash is a heck of a vote counter, she seems to even be able to count Republican votes better than Scalise.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: Damn iPhone autocorrect. I typed S c a l i s e. Then I tried to edit it. It insists on the Justice no matter what I do to make it the Whip. And it won’t do a lower case I.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    This is farce at its finest. Trump goes into a private meeting with Pelosi and Schumer and, confusing Reality TV with actual reality, decides to call in the cameras, presumably to surprise them with the results of the paternity test fluster them so much they accede to all his demands and everyone will see him for the genius he truly is. They proceed to pwn him in a dozen different ways and he ends up (literally) guaranteeing that the Republicans will be blamed for any shutdown. But the thing that really sticks in his craw is that the whole world got to see him schooled by Pelosi on how many Republican votes there were for his stupid border wall. Normally he would just ignore an old woman who was talking but every press mention of this exchange included a variation of the phrase “and Nancy Pelosi can count votes a heck of a lot better than Trump”. God, it must be killing him. She’s a woman. She’s old and therefore by definition not good looking. She talks back to him. So he storms out and tells everyone that he wants the house to pass his $5B for the wall-of-stupid before they end the session. And this is where it gets priceless. Dozens of house members have already gone home. For many of the Republicans, it’s because they have lost or retired. Trump belittled the ones who lost, and specifically called five of them out as losers who weren’t devoted enough to him during a nationally televised speech. His most memorable line has to be “Where’s the love now, Mia.” Oh, he’s a clever one.

    I would give fifty bucks to hear the phone call where some poor staffer is tasked with calling Mia Love up and begging her to come back for a vote. “Representative Love, I know that Trump is a racist and has contempt for black people and you are a black person, and I know that he has contempt for women and you are a woman, and I know that he singled you out and humiliated you on national television on one of the lowest days of your life. But the President made an incredibly stupid mistake, also on national television, and now needs your support in order to make himself look marginally better. Can you leave your family and friends during the holiday season in order to fly to Washington and help him pull his own foot out of his mouth?”

    Another choice bit is that if it does come to a vote the Dems will have absolutely no problem getting all hands on deck to vote against it. They will crawl over broken glass to vote against the wall.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    The toro bravo enters the ring looking very large and intimidating. Then the banderilleros begin to take the bull’s measure, testing it. The picadores wear the bull out and begin to bleed it. Then Robert Mueller, I mean the matador, stabs the bull with two flags – Cohen and Flynn – and we see the bull now beginning to understand the danger it is in, but already too weak to do much about it aside from a lucky sweep of the horn.

    Finally, the last act, where the matador demonstrates his lack of fear and his domination of the confused and staggering beast, teasing it, making it lunge in ever more futile charges at what will turn out to be nothing but a fluttering cape. And then, when the time is right, the matador’s cape conceals the sword, the carefully-crafted, bent sword that the matador stabs down through the bull’s shoulder and into its heart.

    Blood in the sand. The crowd roars. The matador performed well and gets the ears as trophies. The beast is carved up and portioned out and finally, finally, finally, we get our delivery of Trump Steaks.

    When the servile, spineless gollums of the Republican House start to think Trump’s weak, well, who better to judge weakness?

  5. Kathy says:

    Damn, it’s so hard to pass legislation when your party controls Congress! El Cheeto ought to be grateful he won’t have that problem next year!

  6. Kylopod says:

    As far back as spring 2016 I remember Chris Collins, one of Trump’s staunchest backers in Congress at the time, suggesting that Trump’s wall would be merely a “virtual wall.”

    The basic dynamic with Trump’s supporters when it comes to the wall is that they can be divided into two categories: (1) Those who believe he already built the wall. I’ve met some. (2) Those who never cared in the first place, like Collins above.

    The only exception are a few cranky right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter who occasionally call Trump out on failing to fulfill his promises. For the most part, though, whether he actually builds a wall or not is utterly irrelevant to those who support him. Still, it matters a great deal to Trump himself if he is seen as “losing” the fight.

  7. CSK says:


    Well, didn’t the Trumpkins always insist that we take Trump seriously but not literally?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Karma is a beach in DC.

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I saw a great idea for solving the debt crisis…
    Charge people $100 a head to see Dennison behind bars.
    Trillions raised.

  10. mattbernius says:


    Didn’t Pelosi tell Trump, in the notorious meeting, that he might not have the votes in the House?

    She did. And to @MarkedMan’s point, I would love to know how all the lame-duck Republicans who Trump decided to dunk on by name are voting.

    But this, of course, won’t matter to the Trump supporters/base…

  11. Kylopod says:


    Well, didn’t the Trumpkins always insist that we take Trump seriously but not literally?

    That was always a thin rationalization. We can see that clearly now by looking back at the predictions of one of our resident Trumpists who used to make that argument more than anyone else here. Here is what he wrote back in Jan. 2016:

    When Trump wants to open negotiations, he opens with an over-the top position. This gives him bargaining room…. If President Trump were to tell Mexico that the wall was going up and they were going to pay for it, I can pretty much guarantee that they wouldn’t ignore him. Because President Trump would have a LOT of tools on hand to bring them to the negotiating table…. [Goes on to list several things Trump could do as president that would effectively force Mexico’s hand]

    What’s notable here is that he starts out by suggesting Trump’s bloviations about Mexico paying for the wall are not to be taken literally…then he manages to construct a complex scenario about how Trump will still somehow manage to do almost exactly what he promised–the thing we were supposed not to take literally. It’s the best of both worlds: he’s playing 9-D chess, AND he won’t end up sacrificing any pieces, anyway.

    I have often made an analogy between the Trump cult and the Emperor’s New Clothes. Unfortunately, that’s one of the oldest and most overused analogies in politics. But I believe it fits Trump better than usual. The essence of the tale is that everybody can see that the emperor is naked, but they still manage to talk themselves into thinking his clothes are real. Similarly, everybody, even Trump’s staunchest supporters, can see Trump’s comical ineptitude. They just manage to come up with endless rationalizations for why it’s all an illusion and that he’s somehow maniacally ingenious in a way his critics cannot fathom.

    When the history of this era is written, people reading about it will be shaking their head in wonder that it ever could have happened.

  12. Teve says:

    Why are we asking the House GOP? Shouldn’t we be asking the Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos?

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    A long standing story. The GOP had a better plan than Obamacare even back in 2009. They had a better plan than JCPOA. They had a better plan for forcing NK to denuclearize. Trump had a plan for getting Mexico to pay for the wall by taxing remittances or something. They had a better plan for Mideast peace. They got better plans for darn near everything. Now that they control the House and Senate and Presidency, they can’t get any of these great plans out of their own back room because their own legislators won’t vote for them. Whazzup?

  14. Kathy says:


    Extra point for using the legal name, rather than the more common “Congreso de la Unión.”

    But, alas, El Cheeto would have to petition His Glorious Majesty Manuel Andres First of that Name first. And right now he’s busy making a mess of air transportation for a really big city.

  15. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Blood in the sand. The crowd roars.

    End with this. It’s recycled Hemingway, but it’s vital and compelling and painterly.

    That bit after – the rest is unnecessary. Lose the Trump Steaks coda.

    Think about this as the last lines:
    “Blood in the sand. The crowd roars. The matador performed well.”

    Why am I critiquing a published author?

    Also, first line – how about “huge” or “massive” or “immense”. “very large” is accurate but bleh.

  16. de stijl says:


    “Representative Love, I know that Trump is a racist and has contempt for black people and you are a black person, and I know that he has contempt for women and you are a woman, and I know that he singled you out and humiliated you on national television on one of the lowest days of your life. But the President made an incredibly stupid mistake, also on national television, and now needs your support in order to make himself look marginally better. Can you leave your family and friends during the holiday season in order to fly to Washington and help him pull his own foot out of his mouth?”

    On another thread I used the same line in a different context, but putting “Bye, Felicia.” in Ms. Love’s mouth seems appropriate for this scenario.

  17. de stijl says:


    When the history of this era is written, people reading about it will be shaking their head in wonder that it ever could have happened.

    “May you live in interesting times” is a curse, not a blessing.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Hey in your punkish wanderings did you ever come across a band called We Were Indians? Their base player is my realtor.

  19. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No, but I will check them out. I’ve been listening to Public Enemy and NWA all day so I need a palate cleanser.

  20. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    These guys I assume.
    WE WERE INDIANS – ‘They are Coming’

    I would lose the back-up vocals myself but this really is pretty good.

    My fave pull-quote here is:

    “Mr. Hursley brings a Karate-Elvis, high kicking, school of Mick Jagger energy to his performance for this pow-wow counterpointed with just a pinch of Pee Wee Herman mania….”

    You picked a good realtor. My gal is … efficient and … perky.

  21. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re All There” is fucking outstanding. This is objectively great!

    You’re a Clash, Ramones, Rancid guy right? You will love this. This is one of those songs where your speakers are pegged on 10 but it’s just not loud enough to scratch the itch. And it’s a great concept for a video and well shot. I adore the “FUCK WORK” bumper sticker.

    Dude, you made my day. Thanks!

  22. de stijl says:

    The Bakersfield scene is odd, intriguing, fascinating. And I have strong affinity towards psychobilly / rockabilly / punkabilly girls. You’ve got that history of Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam layered underneath.

    There is some magic in the air in the High Desert. Makes you crazy and creative and demented.

    I wish I had a strong dose of peyote or ‘shrooms right now.

    Fist bump your realtor. He’s a good guy.

  23. de stijl says:

    Dwight Yoakam – A Thousand Miles From Nowhere

    Dude was rockin’ skinny jeans before your Silver Lake hipster barista / poet was even born.

  24. de stijl says:

    Buck Owens & The Buckaroos – I Can’t Stop (My Lovin’ You)

  25. de stijl says:

    Elvis Costello & The Attractions Almost Blue is basically a paean to Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound.

    I abused that tape on I-35 between Mpls and OK City hard way back when.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl:..My gal…???

    Your??? gal????

    How demeaning can you get? She belongs to you??? Does she even know that???? Next time use adult woman or mature female

    Or…you might stop acting like you think you are the speech police.

  27. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I’m busted.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl:..I’m busted.

    Yes you are!

    Thank You Ray Charles. RIP

  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    In our ‘congrats you just bought a house’ package he included two pre-rolls. So, yeah, he’s my realtor from now on – like when I have to sell this house I probably can’t afford.