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Government Shutdown

Agreement To Avert Government Shutdown Reached In House/Senate Negotiations

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on government negotiations over border security (all times local):


9:40 p.m.

Three people familiar with Congress’ tentative border security deal tell The Associated Press that the accord would provide $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers.

That’s well below the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump demanded to build over 200 miles of wall along the Mexican boundary. The money will be for vertical steel slats called bollards, not a solid wall.

Democrats dropped their proposal to limit the number of detained immigrants caught inside the U.S. to a daily average of 16,500. Republicans opposed that demand. There is currently no such limit.

Bargainers agreed to fund 40,520 beds to detain immigrants entering or in the U.S. illegally. That’s the same number funded last year, though the actual figure held is around 49,000.

The sources described details of the still-secret agreement only on condition of anonymity.


8:30 p.m.

Negotiators in Congress say they have reached an agreement in principle to fund the government and avoid another partial government shutdown.

The emerging agreement was announced by a group of lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill.

The talks had cratered over the weekend because of Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, but lawmakers apparently broke through that impasse Monday evening.

Now they will need the support of President Donald Trump, whose signature will be needed ahead of the deadline at midnight Friday.

If lawmakers don’t act, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed for a second time this year.


8:15 p.m.

Congressional negotiators say politically freighted talks on border security are back on track as they speed to avert a new federal shutdown this weekend.

Officials say an agreement could be in sight as early as Monday night. The talks had cratered over the weekend because of Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, but that impasse seems to be loosening.

A Friday midnight deadline is looming as negotiators strain to prevent a second partial government shutdown, for which there is virtually no support from lawmakers of either party.

If bargainers don’t reach an agreement and get President Donald Trump’s signature by then, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed for a second time this year.


4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is assailing Democrats over faltering border security negotiations.

Trump spoke to reporters Monday at the White House at an event attended by local sheriffs. He says construction on a border barrier is already underway, but he says of Democrats: “We’re up against people who want to allow criminals in our society.”

Border security negotiations stalled over the weekend over Democratic demands to limit the number of migrants whom federal authorities can detain. The two sides also remain separated over how much to spend on Trump’s border wall.

Republicans say Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions are a deal breaker, eclipsing the border wall issue for now.

Trump is holding a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night and says he’s going there “to keep our country safe.”


3:55 p.m.

The top Republican negotiator for the House says talks on nettlesome border security issues are in “better shape today” and she’s optimistic that negotiations can produce a deal in time to meet a deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Texas Rep. Kay Granger gave the optimistic assessment on her way into a meeting of other top negotiators that was convened after talks collapsed over the weekend over a Democratic demand to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities.

She says the battle over capping detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as demanded by top Democrats was one of those issues that “pop up” in negotiations.

She says there are several remaining outstanding issues.

The deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown is midnight Friday.


3:50 p.m.

Ahead of a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump’s campaign has issued a new video calling for a border wall.

The video posted Monday offers testimonials from residents of the city advocating for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. They say the wall is needed for public safety, arguing that El Paso’s border fence has helped the city.

The video concludes with the slogan “Finish the Wall,” an update on the “Build the Wall” chants that defined Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump’s Monday night rally is to take place just a few hundred yards from El Paso’s border fence. Trump has repeatedly exaggerated the impact of El Paso’s fencing on the city’s crime rate, as well as statistics about crime committed by people who have entered the U.S. illegally.


3:40 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Democrats to resume border security talks as Congress races to avoid another government shutdown.

McConnell complained Monday that Democrats are asking for too much from Republicans in the negotiations over President Donald Trump’s demand for money to build a wall on the Mexican border, his premier campaign promise.

In exchange for some funding for border barriers, Democrats want limits on the number of immigrants whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement can detain for illegal crossings and other violations. It’s a way to slow the Trump administration’s aggressive deportation policies.

McConnell called the detention bed limits “absurd.”

Chief budget negotiators are meeting again Monday to resume talks that sputtered over the weekend. They face Friday’s deadline to fund the government or risk another partial shutdown.


12:30 a.m.

The White House is refusing to rule out the possibility that the federal government may shut down again.

Negotiators are clashing over whether to limit the number of migrants authorities can detain, creating a new hurdle for a border security compromise that Congress can accept.

With a Friday deadline approaching, the two sides remain separated over how much to spend on President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.

Rising to the fore is a related dispute over curbing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies.

People involved in the talks say Democrats have proposed limiting the number of immigrants in the country illegally and caught inside the U.S. — not at the border — that the agency can detain.

Government Shutdown

Congress Finishes Drafting Compromise Bill To Avert Government Shutdown, Trump Slated To Sign

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers late on Wednesday completed writing a border security bill that was expected to deny President Donald Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, with the Senate and House of Representatives expected to vote on the bill Thursday.

A House Democratic aide said the final draft of the legislation was circulating among a group of 17 negotiators and was expected to be made public soon.

The aide added that the Senate would first vote on the bill sometime on Thursday. If it passes there, the House would then vote on final approval that evening, which would clear it for signing into law by Trump by a Friday deadline.

Without the legislation, about one-quarter of federal government agencies would be forced into a partial shutdown for lack of operating funds.

Trump has not yet said that he would embrace the measure but on Wednesday appeared to be edging toward backing the deal once he saw final details.

Trump, widely blamed for a five-week shutdown that ended in January, said he did not want to see federal agencies close again because of fighting over funds for the wall, one of his signature campaign promises in the 2016 election.

The Republican president did not commit himself to backing the government funding agreement struck between Democratic and Republican lawmakers this week. But two sources and a Republican senator close to the White House said he would likely sign off on it.

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing. I think a point was made with the last shutdown,” Trump told reporters. “People realized how bad the border is, how unsafe the border is, and I think a lot of good points were made.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump was “inclined to take the deal and move on.”

Graham told reporters that Trump would then look elsewhere to find more money to build a wall along the U.S. southern border and was “very inclined” to declare a national emergency to secure the funds.

With a Friday night deadline looming before a shutdown, there is little time for the White House and the political parties in Congress to agree on funding.

Funding is due to expire for the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and several other federal agencies.

LESS MONEY

The outline of a congressional agreement reached on Monday falls far short of giving Trump all the money he wants to help build the wall. Instead, congressional sources say, it includes $1.37 billion for new barriers – about the same as last year – along 55 miles (90 km) of the border.

Like Trump, congressional Republicans have little appetite for a repeat of the 35-day partial shutdown in December and January – the longest in U.S. history – which closed about a quarter of federal agencies and left some 800,000 federal workers without pay.

“It’s time to get this done,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday, in reference to voting on the compromise.Trump ‘not happy’ with deal to avert shutdown

OTHER OPTIONS

A White House spokeswoman, Mercedes Schlapp, told CNN that lawyers were reviewing the administration’s options should Congress not provide Trump’s demanded money for the wall.

A variety of sources close to the White House said Trump was likely to explore using his executive power to reallocate other federal funds for barrier projects along the southern border. He was weighing the use of an executive order, among other options, the sources told Reuters.

“The president is going to get that money (in the legislation) and he’s going to find other ways to come up with the rest and he’s going to build the wall,” said one Trump adviser. “At the end of the day, the result is going to be the same.”

Trump previously threatened to declare a “national emergency” if Congress did not provide money specifically for the wall – a move that would almost certainly draw opposition in Congress and in the courts.

“We think the president would be on very weak legal ground to proceed,” said Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House.

Speaking to sheriffs and police chiefs of major cities, Trump said later on Wednesday he was determined to “fully and completely” secure the U.S. border, including providing more law enforcement, closing legal loopholes and finishing the border wall.

Trump has come in for criticism from the right for wavering on support for the wall, which the administration says will cut illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

“Trump talks a good game on the border wall, but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it,” right-wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted on Tuesday.

Trump abandoned a planned compromise on funding for the wall in December after similar criticism.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Roberta Rampton, Amanda Becker, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney

Read the division-by-division summary of the 1,159 page compromise bill here.

Read the full bill here, if you dare.

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Government Shutdown

Trump Moves Closer To Signing Compromise Legislation To Fund Government, Avert Shutdown

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WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday edged toward backing a deal in Congress on funding for a barrier on the Mexican border, but left open the possibility that disputes over the wall could still cause a partial government shutdown by the weekend.

Trump, widely blamed for a five-week shutdown that ended in January, said he did not want to see federal agencies close again because of fighting over funds for the wall, one of his signature campaign promises in the 2016 election.

But the Republican president fell short of committing himself to backing the congressional deal, which would keep the government open but not give Trump the $5.7 billion he seeks for the wall.

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing. I think a point was made with the last shutdown. People realized how bad the border is, how unsafe the border is, and I think a lot of good points were made,” Trump told reporters.

Two sources said Trump will likely approve the funding agreement, but the president said he would hold off on a decision until he sees actual legislation about the issue. He warned lawmakers against “land mines,” or parts of the bill he may not like.

“We haven’t gotten it (the legislation) yet. We’ll be getting it. We’ll be looking for land mines,” Trump said.

With a Friday night deadline looming before a shutdown, that leaves little time for the White House and the political parties in Congress to agree on funding.

LESS MONEY

The congressional agreement, reached by negotiators on Monday night, falls far short of giving Trump all the money he wants to help build the wall. Instead, congressional sources say, it includes $1.37 billion for new barriers – about the same as last year – along 55 miles (90 km) of the border.

Details of the legislation were still being written, but the full bill could be made public as early as Wednesday evening, according to lawmakers and congressional aides.

The accord must be passed by the House of Representatives, dominated by Democrats, and the Republican-controlled Senate, then signed by Trump by midnight on Friday to prevent a shutdown.

The measure’s fate in the House was far from certain given the risk that some conservatives and liberals will oppose the compromise for different reasons.

Like Trump, congressional Republicans have little appetite for a repeat of the 35-day partial shutdown in December and January – the longest in U.S. history – which closed about a quarter of federal agencies and left some 800,000 federal workers without pay.

“It’s time to get this done,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday, in reference to voting on the compromise.

Democrats in the House are aiming to schedule a vote on Thursday evening, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, told reporters. If passed, it would then go to the Senate on Friday.

OTHER OPTIONS

A White House spokeswoman, Mercedes Schlapp, told CNN that lawyers were reviewing the administration’s options should Congress not provide Trump’s demanded money for the wall.

The Washington Post, citing a White House official, said Trump was likely to explore using his executive power to reallocate other federal funds for barrier projects along the southern border. CNN, citing the White House, also said Trump was weighing the use of an executive order, among other options.

Trump previously threatened to declare a “national emergency” if Congress did not provide money specifically for the wall – a move that would almost certainly draw opposition in Congress and in the courts.

“We think the president would be on very weak legal ground to proceed,” said Hoyer, the No.2 Democrat in the House.

Trump has come in for criticism from the right for wavering on support for the border wall, which the administration says will cut illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

“Trump talks a good game on the border wall, but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it,” right-wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted on Tuesday. Trump abandoned a planned compromise on funding for the wall in December after similar criticism. (Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Amanda Becker, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)

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