Negotiators close to negotiate when closing deadline approaches

Richard Shelby

Senator Richard Shelby, shown here before a National Security allotment meeting on January 30, was optimistic after informing Trump about the state of negotiations on Thursday. | M. Scott Mahaskey / POLITICO

Congressional negotiators say they are close to reaching an agreement to avoid a shutdown, and Democrats acknowledge that a final compromise would include financing border barriers, a concession that could provoke rebellion within their party.

However, lawmakers and advisers said Friday that the conference committee will stay several days ahead of a final security agreement at the border, as the main spending leaders continued to exchange round-trip offers.

Technically, negotiators have until February 15 to reach an agreement to avoid another shutdown, but lawmakers insist that the practical deadline for any agreement is much earlier in the week.

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The current negotiations have been reduced to the most difficult problems, as Democrats seek to limit the number of detention beds for undocumented immigrants, while Republicans are pushing for the highest level of funding for the barriers they can get.

But when heading to Friday afternoon, a dead end continued on the amount of dollars for border fences or other barriers. Conservative lawmakers insisted that they and President Donald Trump would accept something for around $ 2 billion, well below their insistence on the $ 5,700 million that caused the closure in December. But the Democrats quickly rejected that amount.

Most lawmakers left the city on Friday with few details about the status of the talks, even referring to an agreement as "yes", instead of "when." However, both parties continued insisting that the government will not close next Friday, considering another provisional law as a backup plan. Lawmakers from both parties do not feel like closing the government again after finishing the longest shutdown in history a few weeks ago.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, one of the Republican Party negotiators, said he aims for a little more than $ 1.6 billion in fencing money, and noted that Trump had rejected his demands of $ 5.7 billion.

"I think the political reality is that we can not get to that," said Fleischmann. "I think he understands that we are operating under a divided government scenario and we have to get the best deal we can get."

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Was optimistic after informing Trump about the state of negotiations on Thursday. And Fleischmann said on Friday he directly listened to White House officials that the government is "much more encouraged" about the state of funding negotiations.

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, one of the leading Democratic negotiators, admitted on Friday that a range of $ 1.6 billion to $ 2 billion for barriers "is likely to be viable."

"We are working the best we can to find that middle ground," he told reporters. "That is what we are going to send to the president and we hope he accepts it and can put it aside."

But a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee Chair, Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Who directs the talks, said later that Democrats would not accept $ 2 billion or more in barrier funds.

"We will not accept $ 2 billion in funding for the barriers," Lowey spokesman Evan Hollander said. "Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a commitment to border security should not depend too much on physical barriers."

The top Democratic spending leaders will stay in the city this weekend, while the rest of the negotiators plan to return Sunday night or early Monday to sign a final agreement. Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar said he plans to attend his son's birthday party at his home in California on Saturday and other panel members said they will also travel to their districts this weekend.

Participants must be physically present to sign any agreement, and several panel members said they now see Monday as the deadline to reach a compromise in order to pbad it through the Chamber on time without the need for a special exemption.

Lowey would not disclose the details of the talks, but said the agreement could be completed "with luck on Monday."

The majority leader in the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, said on Friday that he was anticipating a financing agreement that will come on the court next week, but had no details. The Maryland Democrat also diverted a question in the House of Representatives about whether the final agreement would include money for physical barriers.

"We are in favor of border security," Hoyer said on the floor. "I hope that the conference committee will report a bill that all parties can support and that, in fact, try to make our borders safer."

But some Democrats already admit that the agreement will likely cost them some votes within the Democratic Caucus, particularly with liberal lawmakers who demanded negotiators insist on lack of funds for physical barriers and lower spending for the Department of Security. National.

"It's not realistic," baduming there will be no funding barrier in the agreement, Roybal-Allard told reporters on Thursday. "If the Republicans and the White House say they need barriers, wall, whatever you want to call it, and that's an absolute goal, and we're saying we want some other things." As in everything else, it's a compensation. "

The chairman of the House Freedom Committee, Mark Meadows (RN.C.), an ally of Trump, suggested on Friday that he could support less than $ 5.7 billion for border security, but said it depends on what it is meant for. the money. He and other leaders of the Freedom Caucus met with the president on Thursday.

"It really depends on the details that are there," Meadows said. "It's not about the number as much as the flexibility with what it can build and what it will do to secure our border."

If the negotiators can not come to an agreement of their liking, Meadows said he would prefer to see a one-year continuous resolution that would maintain current funding levels, which were negotiated by Republicans last year.

"I would like to encourage more [Trump] "Make a clean CR and make the national emergency," said Meadows. "A shutdown is not off the table," he added, but "nobody wants it."

Meanwhile, House of Representatives Gov. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Told reporters that the Republican Party would be open to a provisional funding bill, but only "if we're close, and there seems to be serious and honest negotiations. " "

Democrats have said they would like to avoid a one-year interim funding bill that will continue with funding levels and approved spending priorities when Republicans have controlled all levers of government last year.

"Really the worst thing that can happen is if we have to go through a one-year CR," said Roybal-Allard. "We are doing everything possible to avoid that."

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