Another shutdown looms in US as Congress talks break down again
Disagreement Over Detention Beds At Border Derails Parleys
Talks to avert another government shutdown over border security funding broke down on Saturday, and Republicans and Democrats have stopped communicating for now, according to two people familiar with the talks. The sticking point is over detention beds, both people said, an issue that would typically be regarded as a side-note to the broader talks on the level of funding for border security.
Talks could still get back on track, but the prospect of a longer-lasting deal breaking down seem to have increased. Without a funding deal, nine federal departments and related agencies would shutdown again after Friday. Negotiators had hoped to unveil a deal Monday to set up votes in the House and Senate before the shutdown deadline. “I’ll say 50/50 we’ll get a deal,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got some problems with the Democrats” over funding for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.
Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, said on the same broadcast that he was “not positive we’ll get to a deal”. Earlier, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that a shutdown isn’t the most likely option but that he “absolutely cannot” rule it out.
“He’s going to do whatever he legally can to secure the border,” Mulvaney said of President Donald Trump on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
“You cannot take a shutdown off the table, and you cannot take $5.7 (billion) off the table,” he said, referring to the level of funds Trump has been demanding for a wall on the US-Mexican border.
Mulvaney spoke as Congressional negotiators continue talks on a security plan that includes some sort of barrier on the border, hoping to complete a deal to avert another government shutdown. It wasn’t fair to say that Trump would sign whatever Congress comes up with, Mulvaney said, terming the level of proposed border wall funding “all over the map.”
As of Saturday it seemed that negotiators 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. Trump was back in the fray on Saturday, indicating in a tweet that if Democrats didn’t give him all the wall money he’s demanded, he may use executive action to build it.
There are currently 40,520 ICE immigration detention beds funded by Congress. Heading into the talks the White House sought to increase the number to 52,000 while Democrats wanted a cut to 35,520. Democrats have proposed a 16,500 cap on beds to be used for interior enforcement with the rest to be used for those captured at the border, according to people familiar with the talks.
DARK CLOUDS GATHERING AGAIN