Ne­go­tia­tors said to be near­ing pro­posal on wall

The Mercury News - - News - By Erik Was­son and Jack Fitz­patrick

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.

HERIKA MAR­TINEZ — AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

Sup­port­ers make a hu­man wall to demon­strate Satur­day in fa­vor of the con­struc­tion of a bor­der wall between the U.S. and Mex­ico.

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