Congress budges on border security

  • 13 February 2019
  • NormanL

Congressional negotiators believe they have an agreement in principle to keep the federal government open and expand border security. The agreement does not provide all the funds the president wants for a physical wall, which has some of his supporters upset.  What's in the agreement?

The tentative deal includes $1.375 billion for physical barriers — a type of fencing that resembles the “steel slats” that Trump has specifically called for, according to a congressional aide briefed on the talks. It includes a total of 55 miles, which is just 9 miles shy of Trump’s last budget request.

In exchange, Democrats agreed to drop their demand to restrict the number of people who can be detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement at a time. Negotiators agreed to fund a total of 40,520 detention beds for ICE, a roughly 17 percent reduction from current levels, the aide said.

But one Republican source was quick to dispute Democrats' account, saying the $1.375 billion in barrier funding can be used for "new miles of border wall." The same Republican source suggested that the deal had enough flexibility to actually reach the president's requested level of 52,000 beds, far above the negotiated level.

Details of the final deal may not be released until Wednesday, which has both parties aggressively attempting to spin the proposal as a win.

The president has strongly hinted the physical wall will be constructed regardles of any congressional action -- perhaps on declaration of a national emergency. Whether he will support the current agreement is open to debate -- no deal is done until the president has signed it.