The bipartisan congressional committee working on a border security deal is reportedly getting close to an agreement that would avoid another partial government shutdown at the end of next week. The big question still looming over the negotiations, though, is whether President Trump will sign off on the deal.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, met with the president on Thursday and told reporters afterward that Trump laid out “parameters” on what he could accept, The Washington Post’s Erica Werner reported. Shelby did not disclose those parameters, Werner and Damien Paletta report, and he did not say whether Trump would accept less than the $5.7 billion he’s insisted on getting for new wall construction on the southern border.
“If we can work within some of the parameters that we talked about today — that we’ll keep to ourselves — I think he would sign it,” Shelby said, according to the Post. “And I think he’s, from my perspective, been quite reasonable.”
The negotiators have reportedly been working toward a deal that would increase fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico but would not provide money for Trump’s wall. Lawmakers “traded offers behind the scenes, with Democrats saying money for border barriers was on the table and Republicans acknowledging they won’t get Trump the $5.7 billion he has sought for his wall,” the Post reported late Wednesday.
Committee members initially were hoping to finalize a deal by Friday, but they’re now reportedly looking to wrap up their talks by Monday in order to leave enough time for Congress to pass their compromise package before the February 15 shutdown deadline.
Pelosi Says There Won’t Be Another Shutdown: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday expressed confidence that the conference committee would reach an agreement and that the government would not be forced into another partial shutdown. “There will not be another shutdown,” she told Politico on Wednesday. “I have a club that I started, it’s called the ‘Too Hot to Handle Club.’ And this is a too-hot-to-handle issue.”
Mulvaney Says Trump Will Find a Way to Get the Wall via ‘Legal Executive Authority’: The White House, meanwhile, is still looking at ways it can bypass Congress to secure funding for a wall if lawmakers don’t deliver what Trump wants. In an interview Wednesday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the administration is looking for strategies that won’t get blocked by legal challenges. The president has repeatedly threatened to declare a national emergency at the border, but even some members of his own party have cautioned against that approach, and it would be sure to be contested in court.
“There’s a couple of different ways we could do it, and we’re looking at all of them,” Mulvaney said, adding that the approach would be to “find the money that we can spend with the lowest threat of litigation and then move from that pot of money to the next pot that maybe brings a little bit more threat of litigation and then go through the budget like that.”
Mulvaney said the administration had identified “substantially more than $5.7 billion” that it believes it can access legally. Pelosi on Thursday warned against such executive action, saying it "would not be a good idea to even try" circumventing Congress.