Democrats signal openness to barriers along border
successful there at the ports,” said Rep. Tom Graves, Georgia Republican. “So that’s a very important component to this entire process and discussion that was pointed out today.”
Negotiators say they’re trying to strike a deal by the end of the week to give the House and the Senate time to jump through procedural hoops and send something to President Trump’s desk by Feb. 15, the next funding deadline.
“I would say [we’ve] got a much better chance today than we had Monday to reach some kind of resolution to this,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican.
But the two wild cards in the equation are Mr. Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have gotten off to an acrimonious start this year with their shutdown standoff that forced the delay of Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said she’s indicated to Mr. Shelby that she won’t interfere with the conference committee working on a deal — and she hopes the White House does the same.
“Left to their own devices, if they have a bipartisan agreement, I will support it,” Mrs. Pelosi said Wednesday, after flatly declaring last week there would be no wall money in the package.
Mr. Trump may be a tougher sell. Senators thought they had a short-term spending deal late last year and thought they had the White House’s blessing, but the president withdrew support in the final days over his border wall demand, sending the government careening into the 35-day partial shutdown.
The administration has said Mr. Trump is willing to negotiate his $5.7 billion wall money request, but says he must have some cash for fencing.
Mr. Trump has said he could orchestrate another shutdown or declare a national emergency to get around Congress and build the wall if negotiators don’t come up with a package he likes.
Another wrinkle came late Wednesday when the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, comprised of Democrats, released a letter urging the negotiators to reject anything that could be seen as boosting Mr. Trump’s “anti-immigrant agenda.”
That means resisting any new wall money, as well as refusing to approve the president’s request for more detention beds to hold immigrants awaiting deportation.
“Border walls and the associated hypermilitarization of the border region don’t make us safer,” the Hispanic Caucus said.