Democrats sig­nal open­ness to bar­ri­ers along bor­der

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

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.

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