Top Border Negotiators to Meet Monday as Shutdown Looms, Aides Say





(Bloomberg) -- Four senior congressional negotiators will meet Monday afternoon in an attempt to salvage talks over border security funding and avoid a second partial government shutdown, according to a GOP and Democratic aide.

With government funding set to expire on Friday for some agencies, the top Democrats and Republicans on the House-Senate panel holding negotiations will attempt to get the talks back on track: Representative Nita Lowey and Senator Patrick Leahy, both Democrats, and Representative Kay Granger and Senator Richard Shelby, both Republicans.

Lawmakers may decide that a stopgap funding extension past Friday is necessary. But the prospect of getting an agreement by that deadline seems to have faded after negotiators had expressed optimism they could unveil a deal Monday to set up votes in the House and Senate this week.

The sticking point is over the number and purpose of immigration detention beds. Democrats are seeking a cap to force U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to detain criminals rather than undocumented immigrants with no criminal history. Republicans are resisting a limit on grounds that criminals shouldn't count toward it and ICE should have discretion.

Without a funding deal, nine federal departments and related agencies would shut down again, just weeks after a record 35-day closing. Negotiators also continue to haggle about the amount of funding for a wall and placement of fencing on the southern U.S. border. Amid the talks, Trump heads to El Paso, Texas, on Monday for a rally "to show Democrats how much Americans demand The WALL,'' according to a Trump campaign fundraising email on Sunday.

Even Chances

"I'll say 50/50 we'll get a deal," said Shelby of Alabama, the Senate Appropriations Chairman on "Fox News Sunday." "I hope and pray we do."

Lawmakers could resort to a resolution with funding through Sept. 30 if they can't get a deal, but acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday" that Trump "cannot sign everything they put in front of him. There'll be some things that simply we couldn't agree to."

Mulvaney said a shutdown isn't the most likely option but that he "absolutely cannot" rule it out. Trump has also threatened declaring a national emergency to get funding for a border wall.

"He's going to do whatever he legally can to secure the border," Mulvaney said on NBC's "Meet the Press," one of two appearances on Sunday talk shows.

Democrats are also demanding language in the bill aimed at blocking Trump from shifting funds to pay for the wall, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The language could stymie executive actions to build the barriers and has become another hitch in the negotiations, the person said.

Barrier Money

As of Saturday, it seemed that negotiators were focused on a proposal with border barrier funding of between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, said a person familiar with the talks. Details about where the fencing would go and a Democratic request to eliminate previously funded fencing in the National Butterfly Center, a conservation area close to the border in Mission, Texas, were still being negotiated.

The White House and Republicans have been emphasizing in the talks that Trump cannot accept less than $2 billion for border barriers. As Democrats consider increasing the funding for barriers, they have also more demands for restrictions on where it can be placed and have kept a demand for a cap on detention beds -- something Republicans are resisting.

Detention Beds

There are currently 40,520 ICE immigration detention beds funded by Congress. Heading into the talks, the White House sought to increase the number to 52,000, while Democrats wanted a reduction to 35,520. Democrats have proposed a 16,500 cap on beds to be used for interior enforcement, with the rest to be used for those captured at the border, according to people familiar with the talks.

A senior Republican aide said Shelby won't accept an interior cap, and Democrats told Republicans they won't proceed without one.

Democrats proposed the cap at the beginning of the negotiations, but Republicans were surprised and dismayed that the proposal remained in the latest Democratic offer on Saturday. The initial offer, which had no money for border barriers, was seen a low-ball opening bid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted calls from a small but vocal liberal wing of her caucus including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to dismantle ICE. Even so, the inclusion of the proposal to limit the ability of ICE to detain undocumented immigrants reflects pressure from the progressives.

Restricting ICE

Democrats said they want to use the cap -- which matches an informal one used during the Obama administration -- to force ICE to detain criminals rather than undocumented immigrants with no criminal history, including people who've overstayed their visas.

"For far too long, the Trump administration has been tearing communities apart with its cruel immigration policies," said Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, a member of the conference committee.

"A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country."

But Republicans are pushing back that Democrats are seeking to limit the number of beds available for violent criminals.

"That would incentivize illegal immigration and undercut anything you did on the wall," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News's "Sunday Morning Futures."

Trump entered the fray on Sunday saying on Twitter he doesn't think Democrats on the committee are being allowed by their party leaders to make a deal with border wall money and "now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!"

"I actually believe they want a Shutdown," Trump said in a separate tweet, suggesting it was a bad week for Democrats with the controversy in Virginia and good economic news for the U.S. economy, and they want to change the subject.

Trump also seized on a Feb. 8 Gallup blog posting about a survey of Latin America countries that estimated 42 million of its residents want to come to the U.S.

"Gallup Poll: 'Open Borders will potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans,'" Trump tweeted on Sunday. "This would be a disaster for the U.S. We need the Wall now!"

--With assistance from Mark Niquette, Hailey Waller, Laura Litvan and Arit John.

To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Key White House deputy press secretary to leave for private sector
Key White House deputy press secretary to leave for private sector
  • US
  • 2019-02-19 20:22:06Z

Lindsay Walters, one of the original communications officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's White House, plans to resign soon to join the private sector, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced on Tuesday. Walters, a former Republican National Committee aide who has been a deputy White House press secretary since Trump's presidency began, is going to be vice president for U.S. public policy at Edelman, a global communications firm.

Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis, report says
Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis, report says
  • World
  • 2019-02-19 18:58:10Z

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a new congressional report citing whistleblowers within the administration.

Bernie Sanders Announces Presidential Run, Calls Trump
Bernie Sanders Announces Presidential Run, Calls Trump 'Embarrassment'

Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who finished runner up to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, on Tuesday announced a second White House bid. "I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country," Sanders said in an interview

Bernie Sanders announces he is running for US president in 2020
Bernie Sanders announces he is running for US president in 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday he is running for president, launching a second bid for the White House after a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Sanders, 77, made the announcement in a radio interview in his home state of Vermont. "I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first," Sanders said on Vermont Public Radio. The self-described Democratic socialist joins an already crowded field of candidates seeking to take on President Donald Trump and the Republicans in 2020. Sanders gave an outline Tuesday of how he will campaign. "And what I promise to do is, as I go around the country, is to take the values that...

White House indicates Trump to veto disapproval of emergency
White House indicates Trump to veto disapproval of emergency

A top adviser to President Donald Trump indicated Sunday that Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove of his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border. The West Wing is digging in for fights on multiple fronts as the president'

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.