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The Latest: Dems block Pentagon funding over border wall

Politics
Mitch McConnell, John Barrasso, John Thune, Joni Ernst

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks to the media with members of the Senate Republican leadership, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., McConnell, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, after their weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and a package of spending bills (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Democrats opposing President Donald Trump’s border wall demands have again blocked passage of a massive, almost $700 billion Pentagon funding measure.

The mostly party-line vote was the second time in six weeks that Democrats have filibustered the defense measure.

They are demanding language to again prevent Trump from shifting Pentagon funds to help pay for the border wall. They say Republicans are shortchanging health and education programs to fulfill Trump’s demands for $5 billion for border fencing next year — more than three times 2019 levels.

Trump originally promised Mexico would pay for the border wall.

At issue are annual spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion that would translate this summer’s hard-won budget deal into binding legislation. Thursday’s bill also contained a major health and education funding measure.

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12:40 p.m.

The Senate has passed a long-overdue bundle of spending bills in a modest sign of progress toward implementing this summer’s hard-won budget deal.

But an ongoing, divisive battle over President Donald Trump’s demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to bedevil lawmakers seeking a broader agreement that would enable passage of the full $1.4 trillion slate of agency appropriations bills.

The sweeping bipartisan vote reflects broad support for Cabinet agencies funded by the bill — including the departments of Justice, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, and Transportation — as well as a bipartisan decision to keep the measure free of politically controversial items.

The almost 600-page measure totals $209 billion. It fills in many of the line-by-line details of the July budget deal, which averted the return of stinging across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

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12:10 a.m.

A bitter fight over funding for border fencing is placing in peril Capitol Hill efforts to forge progress on more than $1.4 trillion worth of overdue spending bills.

It’s one of the few areas in which divided government in Washington has been able to deliver results in the Trump era.

Poisonous political fallout from the ongoing impeachment battle isn’t helping matters.

Lawmakers are likely to prevent a government shutdown next month with a government-wide stopgap spending bill. But there has been little progress, if any, on the tricky trade-offs needed to balance Democratic demands for social programs with President Donald Trump’s ballooning border wall demands.

Even an expected Senate vote on Thursday to pass a $209 billion bundle of four bipartisan spending bills isn’t regarded as much headway.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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