Democrat politician Beto O’Rourke at a rally in El Paso, Texas, February 11, 2019
Congressional legislators reach a deal on Government funding and border security, avoiding another Trump Shutdown.
Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate on Monday night agreed on $1.375 billion for fencing and other physical barriers at the Mexican border, an alternative to Donald Trump’s ultimatum for $5.7 billion for his $25 billion Wall.
Trump shut down the Government on December 21 for a record-setting 35 days. He finally backed down on January 25, accepting a three-week funding bill to reopen the Government without a penny of the $5.7 billion for a Wall of more than 200 miles. However, he has threatened another shutdown from Friday or a declaration of a national emergency.
Monday’s agreement authorizes 55 miles of new bollard fencing, with restrictions on location based on community and environmental concerns, according to two congressional aides. That is 10 miles less than negotiators agreed in a $1.6 billion measure last summer — a bill rejected by Trump — before Democrats gained a House majority after November’s mid-term elections.
The deal now goes to the full House and Senate for approval. If it passes, Trump must decide whether he wants to issue his first veto.
Asked if Trump will relent and sign the agreement, Richard Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said, “We think so. We hope so. The specter of another government shutdown this close, I thought tonight we didn’t want that to happen.”
Rep. Kay Granger, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee echoed, “This has been a difficult one. I think everyone will say, ‘Good work.’”
But last night, at a rally in El Paso, Texas, Trump — while issuing a string of false statements and whipping up supporters who accosted journalists and cameramen — insisted, “We’re building the wall anyway.”
The funding for 55 miles of new fencing is a figure far lower than the $5.7 billion that Mr. Trump had demanded and marginally less than the $1.6 billion for 65 miles of pedestrian fencing in the bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee had passed last year.
Negotiators also agreed to reduce the number of migrants and undocumented immigrants who can be held in detention. Democrats set aside their call for a limit of 34,000 beds. Instead, legislators agreed to adhere to levels, set in a previous budget, for 40,520 beds, a decrease of about 17% from the current level.
The measure allocates $1.7 billion more for border security, including technology at ports of entry, more officers, and humanitarian aid.
The White House offered no comment last night, as conservative allies of Trump denounced the agreement. Sean Hannity, a polemicist on Fox TV, railed against “a garbage compromise”.