An­other shut­down looms in US as Congress talks break down again

Dis­agree­ment Over De­ten­tion Beds At Bor­der Derails Par­leys

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES GLOBAL -

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 Cong- res­sional 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 sa- id, 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.



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