Gianforte blames Dems for potential shutdown, lack of border wall

Rep. Greg Gianforte joined a majority of House Republicans in passing a spending bill late Thursday that included the president’s request for $5 billion for a wall on the U.S. southern border – a measure unlikely to pass the Senate.

In voting for the measure, Gianforte also joined the president in blaming Democrats for a potential government shutdown over funding for the wall. Democrats, in turn, have blamed President Trump.

“We could just kick the can here – on government funding, on our public lands, and on border security,” Gianforte said on the House floor. “All because Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are folding their arms, shaking their heads no, and refusing to secure our border.”

Thursday night’s vote of 217-185 will likely place the House at odds with the Senate, which passed a spending bill that didn’t include money for the wall. But Trump refused to sign that bill and instead has opted for a government shutdown at midnight Friday.

Gianforte made his remarks while calling for the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, along with the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act and restoration of the Little Shell Tribe.

All three measures were included in a public lands package that didn’t receive a Senate vote. Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines said they’ve both received assurance that the package will get a vote as the new Congress convenes in January.

But it’s a potential government shutdown and the heated debate over funding for Trump’s “big, beautiful wall,” as he has called it in the past, that’s now at the center of debate.

“Montanans didn’t send me here to shut down the government. But they also didn’t send me here to let their priorities die in a lame duck session that is every part lame,” Gianforte said. “I urge my colleagues to take up a public lands package and to secure our border.”

Tester blamed partisan politics for blocking the Yellowstone bill and another restoring recognition for the Little Shell Tribe. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, blocked both measures from receiving a Senate vote.

The Yellowstone measure would remove mineral rights north of the park, while the Little Shell bill would provide the Tribe access to its homeland.

“The Little Shell have fought for generations to secure what is rightfully theirs,” Tester said.  “Now just one man stands in the way and it is time for him and his political party to quit the political shenanigans and allow this long-overdue vote to take place.”