WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators reached agreement to prevent a government shutdown and finance construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, overcoming a late-stage hang-up over immigration enforcement issues that had threatened to scuttle the talks.
Republicans were desperate to avoid another bruising shutdown. They tentatively agreed Monday night to far less money for President Donald Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7 billion wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4 billion, according to congressional aides. The funding measure is through the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
It’s not clear whether Trump will support the deal, although GOP negotiators said they were hopeful.
The agreement means 55 miles (88 kilometres) of new fencing — constructed through existing designs such as metal slats instead of a concrete wall — but far less than the 215 miles (345 kilometres) the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. It actually closely mirrors Trump’s original budget request from last winter, however.
The split-the-differences compromise contains plenty to anger lawmakers on the right and left — too much border fencing than many Democrats would like and too little for conservative Republicans — but its authors praised it as a genuine compromise that would keep the government open and allow everyone to move on.
“With the government being shut down, the spectre of another shutdown this close, what brought us back together I thought tonight was we didn’t want that to happen” again, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Details won’t be officially released until Tuesday, but the pact came in time to alleviate any threat of a second partial government shutdown this weekend. Negotiators said it’s pretty much the deal that Trump could have gotten in December. Aides revealed the details under condition of anonymity because the agreement is tentative.
“Our staffs are just working out the details,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. She said the huge measure — which combines seven spending bills into one — measure would be publicly released as early as Tuesday afternoon.
The pact also includes increases for new technologies such as advanced screening at border entry points, humanitarian aid sought by Democrats, and additional customs officers.
This weekend, Shelby pulled the plug on the talks over Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, frustrating some of his fellow negotiators, but Democrats yielded ground on that issue …read more