US Military Spending Bill Fails in Senate With Dispute Over Border Wall

Reconciling House and Senate on military spending looks unlikely

A bundle of spending bills including the US military, Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services failed in the Senate on Thursday, with a procedural vote that needed 60 votes ending up 51-41.

The votes are heavily a political issue surrounding attempts to shift some of the military budget into building a border wall at Mexico, a top Trump priority. The bills only got through the Appropriations Committee on a vote entirely along party lines.

When it got to the Senate floor, Republicans were banking on accusing the Democrats of not supporting the military. This failed, with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) saying that they’re trying to stop the Republicans from “stealing money from our military and putting it into the wall.”

With almost no Democrat support, there was no way the Senate was getting to 60 votes. There had been closed door talks on how to move ahead on this issue with the border wall hanging over everyone’s head.

To make matters even more complicated, there has been protracted fighting on reconciling the bill between the House, where the Democrats are in control, and the Senate. This is something they’ve struggled with for some time, with President Trump angrily condemning the Congressional Democrats as “failing” in not giving him the money for his wall.

That they ended up stopping the talks, and having a vote that was likely to fail, reflects how little idea anyone has on how to sort this out. Instead, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and other committee leaders were counting on saying that military spending “should come first” as excuse enough to push the bill through. But it just wasn’t, and with time running out they may have to accept another continuing resolution to punt the matter into early 2020.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of