Congressional negotiators are reportedly close to a border security deal that would include deploying new technologies, additional Border Patrol agents and even some fencing in an arrangement that POTUS Donald Trump is said to be considering.
Negotiators from the House and Senate have been working on a deal ahead of a February 15 deadline when a current three-week stopgap funding measure the president signed in late January in order to reopen the government is preparing to expire.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told lawmakers privately this week that the president may be more amenable to the deal being worked out: Though Democratic leaders have insisted that language in the bill not mention a “border wall,” it reportedly contains funding for substantial barriers and/or fencing along portions of the border, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I gave a report on meeting with the president and I thought things were on the positive trajectory as far as maybe concluding the funding,” Shelby noted. “But we are not there yet.”
On Thursday afternoon, Shelby said the next three days would be crucial for Republicans and Democrats to hammer out an agreement. If one is reached, seven government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security would be fully funded for the year.
“We’ve got serious negotiations going on,” Shelby said.
The WE said the primary sticking points are what the barriers will look like and how much money Democrats are willing to put towards them.
The Alabama Republican did not say if the president would agree to accept less than his requested $5.7 billion, but he indicated that’s a possibility.
“It was the most positive meeting I’ve had with him regarding numbers,” Shelby said. “He seemed to be very reasonable and, I thought, urging us to get a legislative conclusion to that. He’s being very reasonable but I can’t get into the details.”
One of the bill’s provisions includes additional funding for upgraded technology at ports of entry where DHS says most of the drugs being smuggled into the country pass.
“Technology is very important, ports of entry, manpower is very important,” Shelby said. “But without barriers, none of it will work. We are talking about a comprehensive approach.”
Fox News also reported that a border deal is in reach following a presidential briefing by Border Patrol officials on Wednesday.
That said, the network reported that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he has “no confidence” that POTUS Trump will sign the legislation if a deal is reached between congressional negotiators.
During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s program Wednesday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the president wants to work with Congress to reach an acceptable funding agreement that presumably includes border wall or barrier funding because it’s “the fastest and easiest way” to get it done.
But, he warned, if Congress can’t come up with an acceptable deal POTUS Trump is prepared to act with “legal, lawful” executive authority to find wall funding.
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