Congressional negotiators reported on Monday evening that they’ve reached “an agreement in principle” on border security funding. It includes more than $1.3 billion for physical barriers (not concrete walls) along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was asked if they had an agreement that President Trump would approve and he told reporters: “We think so. We hope so.” Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, declined to give details of the deal but said a final text could be released by Wednesday.
The clock is ticking and lawmakers have until 11:59 p.m. Friday to get the agreement through both houses of Congress and signed by Trump. If they don’t meet this deadline, several Cabinet-level departments will shut down and hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed in what would be the second partial government shutdown this year.
Sources tell Fox News the $1.3 billion can be used only for new construction that would cover approximately 55 miles of border territory in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Trump administration had requested $5.7 billion for the border wall and the administration had threatened the possibility that Trump would declare a national emergency. He would divert money from the federal budget for wall construction, but that move almost certainly would be challenged in Congress as well as in the courts.
Negotiations almost collapsed over the weekend after Democrats pushed to reduce funding for detention beds to curb what they’ve called unnecessarily harsh enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They offered a proposal to cap at 16,500 the number of detainees caught in areas away from the border — a limit Democrats said was aimed at preventing ICE overreach. But that ran into its own Republican wall.
At a campaign-style rally Monday night in El Paso, Texas, Trump said he was told lawmakers were making progress in their attempt to stop another shutdown. However, the president told his staff that he didn’t want to hear about it and that it was important to speak “to my people from Texas” first.
“I had a choice,” Trump said. “I could’ve stayed out there and listened, or I could have come out to the people of El Paso and Texas, I chose you.”