"We Are Close": Top Negotiators Scramble To Reach Border Deal As Shutdown Looms
Just a day after optimism over a compromise funding deal collapsed after border wall talks broke down, making another government shutdown virtually certain, optimism returned on Monday evening when four senior congressional negotiators scheduled a second round of meetings in an attempt to salvage talks over border security funding and avoid another partial U.S. government shutdown, Bloomberg and Politico reported.
With government funding set to expire Friday night for some agencies, resulting in a new government shutdown, top Congressional Democrats and Republicans met Monday afternoon and were returning at 6 p.m. Washington time for more talks.
“We’ve reopened serious negotiations,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, who also met during the break with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders.
As Bloomberg reported, meeting on Monday were Representative Nita Lowey and Senator Patrick Leahy, both Democrats, and Representative Kay Granger and Shelby, both Republicans. "Let me say very clearly I don’t think Democrats or Republicans want a shutdown,” said Lowey of New York, who characterized the afternoon talks as “sincere."
According to Politico's Burgess Everett, Shelby and Leahy appeared together with reporters late on Monday, signaling they are close, saying "their goal is a new spending deal tonight."
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 12, 2019
Lowey also said that lawmakers may need to consider passing a stopgap funding extension to keep the agencies operating past Friday should a deal appear unachievable. Negotiators had earlier expressed optimism they could unveil a deal Monday to set up votes in the House and Senate this week.
"I’ll say 50/50 we’ll get a deal,” said Shelby of Alabama, the Senate Appropriations chairman, on “Fox News Sunday.” “I hope and pray we do."
In this case prayer may not be enough.
As we reported yesterday, the sticking point is over the number and purpose of immigration detention beds. Democrats are seeking a cap to force U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to detain criminals instead of undocumented immigrants with no criminal history. Republicans are resisting a limit on the number of beds, contending criminals shouldn’t count toward the total and that ICE should have discretion.