Negotiators said to be nearing proposal on wall
Congressional negotiators dug in for a weekend of talks on a security plan that includes some sort of barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border, hoping to complete a deal to avert another government shutdown that’s also acceptable to President Donald Trump.
Trump was back in the fray late Saturday afternoon, indicating in a tweet that if Democrats didn’t give him all the wall money he has demanded, he may use executive action to build it. Democrats have warned such action would face court challenges, and some Republicans have suggested it’s an option best avoided.
Negotiators on Saturday were homing in on a proposal with border barrier funding of between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, said a person familiar with the talks. That’s far lower than the $5.7 billion that Trump had been demanding.
Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Republican member of the House-Senate panel conducting the talks, said Friday that he expects a deal “before the end of the weekend” that could be finalized Monday. The Mississippi lawmaker said some key details are still under negotiation, including the amount of money for barriers on the U.S.Mexican border.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby are scheduled to appear on political talk shows this morning, which could provide additional clarity on how talks are progressing.
Another Republican on the negotiating panel, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, said the party wants as much barrier funding as possible, and he hopes that the final amount is above $2 billion. House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement that Democrats want the figure to be less than $2 billion.
Even so, Fleischman said chances of a government shutdown triggered by an impasse are “next to nil.”
“There’s next to no appetite in the room on either side in either body, and that’s a good thing. We didn’t want the government shut down the first time,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview Friday.
The biggest wild card remains Trump, who has continued to demand billions of dollars for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, a proposal rejected by Democrats. If the president doesn’t agree to a deal reached by bipartisan negotiators, some Republican senators say they’re unlikely to go along with it, although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t ruled out bringing it to a vote.
As the talks proceeded this week, Trump’s campaign sent a solicitation email to supporters asking them to vote on whether the president should declare a national emergency to build the border wall, an option he has been floating for some weeks.
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said Friday he was among a bipartisan group of lawmakers invited by Mulvaney to meet Saturday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in a remote corner of Maryland.
Others at the meeting include Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania and Peter Welch of Vermont.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Friday the offcampus event would allow a “free exchange of thoughts and ideas.”
The talks could focus more on longer-term issues, including the debt ceiling, than the pending border deal, lawmakers said.
Supporters make a human wall to demonstrate Saturday in favor of the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.