US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in El Paso, Texas, on February 11, 2019, calling for a border wall to be built.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
- Lawmakers reached a tentative deal on border security funding Monday that they hope will avert another government shutdown.
- It includes $1.375 billion to build a barrier at the border — less than a quarter of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded in December, triggering the first shutdown.
- A lead Republican negotiator said lawmakers “hope” Trump will sign the bill, and that the White House had been kept up-to-date. It would also need to pass both houses of Congress.
- Trump made it clear at a rally later on Monday that he wants the full wall built.
Lawmakers negotiating a new border security deal in a bid to avoid another government shutdown reached a tentative deal on Monday night.
However, its provisions fall far short of the $5.7 billion for a US-Mexico border wall which President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded, and would give him less than 25% of that sum.
The provisional deal would provide $1.375 billion for border fortification, made from vertical steel slats, rather than a solid wall, sources familiar with the deal told The Associated Press and Politico.
This is 24.1% of the $5.7 billion that Trump said he wanted in December. Congress’s refusal to sanction that funding led to large parts of the federal government shutting down for 35 days, the longest period ever.
$1.375 billion would allow for 55 miles of barriers to be built, both outlets reported. The White House had demanded 215 miles in December.
A demonstrator holds a sign, signifying hundreds of thousands of federal employees who won’t be receiving their paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown, during a “Rally to End the Shutdown” in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2019.Carlos Barria/Reuters
Democrats also dropped an earlier demand for a cap on the number of people that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can detain at once.
In exchange, Republicans agreed to reduce the number of beds in detention centers to 40,250 from the current 49,057.
Details of the agreement will not be officially released until later this week, the outlets said.
Both parties say they are keen to avoid a repeat of the first shutdown, which left more than 800,000 federal workers without work or working without pay. US national parks were left with heavy damage, and organizations like the FBI warned that Americans were being put at risk.
Sen. Richard Shelby, a lead Republican negotiator on the border funding issue, said that lawmakers from both parties were motivated by their desire to keep the government open.
Trump speaks during a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
“With the government being shut down, the specter of another shutdown this close, what brought us back together, I thought tonight, was we didn’t want that to happen,” he said, according to the AP.
But he described the agreement reached between the 17 Democratic and Republican lawmakers as an “agreement in principle.”
For the deal to work in time to prevent a shutdown, both the House and the Senate must approve it, and it must be signed by Trump before midnight Friday.
Shelby said that the “White House has been consulted all along.” When asked whether Trump would support the deal, he said: “We certainly hope so.”
Shortly after the deal was reached, Trump led a rally in El Paso, Texas, where he made it clear that he wants a full wall built.
“They said that progress is being made with this committee,” Trump told the crowd, the AP reported. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”
Trump has previously threatened to declare a national emergency to secure funds for the wall, though it is likely that he would face legal challenges if he did so.
Beto O’Rourke speaks to thousands of people gathered to protest President Donald Trump’s border wall in El Paso, Texas, on Monday.Christ Chavez/Getty Images
While Trump spoke, Beto O’Rourke led an anti-wall march and rally through El Paso, his hometown.
O’Rourke, as well as local politicians and law enforcement officials, have repeatedly challenged Trump’s claims that a border wall is necessary, citing federal statistics as well as local experience.
“Here is one of the safest cities in the United States of America, safe not because of walls but in spite of walls,” O’Rourke said at the rally.