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Democrats draft bills to end US government shutdown, without wall funding

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Democrats draft bills to end US government shutdown, without wall funding

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 31 proposed a funding package to put an end to the partial U.S. government shutdown, but the measures lacked a key component at the center of the impasse — providing funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The package comprises a bill to cover the Department of Homeland Security's finances through Feb. 8 and six other measures to reopen other agencies through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Democrats, who gained a majority in the House in the November 2018 midterm elections, would vote on the two-part package separately Jan. 3, which is when they officially take control of the chamber. If approved, the package would reach the Republican-led Senate, where the proposals will likely be opposed.

"[President Donald Trump] is using the government shutdown to try to force an expensive and ineffective wall upon the American people, but Democrats have offered two bills which separate the arguments over the wall from the government shutdown," House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

Pelosi and Schumer said if Senate Republicans reject the bills for agencies unconnected to border security, they could be held responsible for keeping roughly 800,000 people out of work over the wall demand, which the president says is required to fight drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

"We have to have a wall as part of border security," Trump said in a New Year video message on Twitter.

Trump, who wants approval for $5 billion in funds to fulfill his election campaign promise, on Dec. 28, 2018, threatened to shut the country's entire southern border with Mexico in case Congress does not approve funding for the border wall.