United States shutdown deadline looms as border wall negotiations hit snag in Congress

Feb 11, 2019, 00:55
United States shutdown deadline looms as border wall negotiations hit snag in Congress

Efforts to resolve the dispute over border security funding extended into the weekend as a special congressional negotiating panel aimed to reach a deal by Monday, lawmakers and aides said.

The Homeland Security Department and other agencies are operating on a short-term spending bill that Trump signed January 25, when he ended the nation's longest ever government shutdown after 35 days.

Predictably each side blamed the other for the stall in negotiations.

The website Axios, citing 51 private schedules provided by a White House source, revealed that Trump spent 60 percent of his time since the day after November's midterm elections in "Executive Time" in his private quarters. The reference to $5.7 billion involves Trump's initially recommended price tag for the border wall.

"To enhance national security and encourage more efficient immigration enforcement, Democrats have proposed a cap on the number of ICE detention beds associated with interior enforcement", the statement said.

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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said they're closing in on the culprit.

President Trump has asked for $5.7 billion to fund a wall along the USA border with Mexico.

"We need the time to make sure that what we're agreeing to is what we really need", Texas Rep. Kay Granger, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and member of the negotiation team, stated to Roll Call.

"We are not to a point where we can announce a deal, negotiations are still going on", Tester said on Fox News Sunday.

On Sunday, lead Republican negotiator Senator Richard Shelby told Fox News that he was "not confident we're going to get there". While the two sides are now said to be close to a dollar amount for border barriers, Democrats are making a higher level of funding for barriers contingent on the new cap for detention beds - something Republicans are resisting.

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A Democratic congressional aide tells NPR talks have broken down over how many detention beds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be funded through the agreement.

Republicans balked at the Democrats' sub-cap offer, the source said. "But they also demanded the limit on ICE beds, as a way to force the agency to focus on detaining migrants with criminal records instead of people who have overstayed their visas". Now, with the bad offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown.

Trump seized on the stall in a pair of tweets on Sunday, saying Democrats were "offering very little money" for the wall and claiming Democrats actually wanted a shutdown for political purposes.

"We haven't reached a number on the barrier yet, but we're working and we're hoping we can get there".

In an interview on CBS News' "Face The Nation", the head of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus said the experts are the ones who best know where money is needed. She also added, though, that the deal would "have to include funding that will allow us to secure the border".

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"You can not take a shutdown off the table, and you can not take $5.7 (billion) off the table", Mulvaney told NBC.

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