WASHINGTON — The Republican-led U.S. House voted Thursday night in favor of a temporary government funding bill that includes $5 billion for President Donald Trump's proposed southern border wall, setting up a Friday showdown with the Senate hours before a potential partial government shutdown.
The Senate initially passed a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 without any additional money for the border wall. Trump has requested $5 billion for the wall, but with at least a few Democratic votes needed to approve the bill in the Senate, the prospects of passage there are grim.
That didn't stop more conservative House Republicans in the hard-right Freedom Caucus — including several from South Carolina — from digging in their heels, urging both Trump and House leaders to keep fighting for the wall funding.
After a flurry of negotiations, they succeeded, and a new version of the bill with the border wall funding added passed 217-185, largely along party lines.
Five South Carolina Republicans ended up voting for the bill. U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, missed the vote because of a delayed flight, according to his spokeswoman, but he was an early cosponsor of the amendment to add the wall funding.
The state's lone Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, voted against the amended bill.
Three South Carolina congressmen are members of the Freedom Caucus: Mark Sanford, R-Charleston; Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill; and Duncan.
"We told them it's time to fight for the wall and see what what happens," Norman said of discussions with House leadership Thursday morning.
"We'll stay up here forever," Norman said. "If it doesn't have the $5 billion (for the wall), we're shutting down. Not fighting at all is not an option with the majority of us."
Sanford said he would prefer to see the wall funding included in the final agreement. As to whether he would be willing to force a shutdown over the issue, he said, "That's not my call."
After meeting with Trump at the White House, Speaker Paul Ryan said the president told them he would not be willing to sign a stopgap spending measure if it does not include funding for the wall.
Some outgoing House Republicans have stopped showing up to Congress in recent days, meaning the party has fewer votes to spare. Retiring U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, said that Thursday would be his last day in Washington whether the bill passes or not because he's going back home to be with his family.
Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are covered for the year and would continue to operate as usual if funding lapses. The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, would not be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.
But without a deal, more than 800,000 federal workers would face furloughs or be forced to work without pay, disrupting government operations days before Christmas.
Norman and others have argued that would be a price worth paying if it meant following through on GOP campaign promises to fight for the border wall, particularly with Democrats poised to take over the House majority in January.
"Explain to me what happens when they take the gavel — (the wall funding) is not going to happen," Norman said. "We've been told four times, 'it's coming, we're going to put it in.' Well it hasn't happened, and we're tired of it."
The bill also includes a nearly $8 billion disaster aid package package many lawmakers want for coastal hurricanes and California wildfires.
The most likely possibility Friday is that the Senate strips the border wall out of the bill but keeps the disaster funds and sends it back to the House. House lawmakers said they were being told to stay in town for more possible votes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.