Senate appropriations chairman: Border security talks have ‘stalled’

Donald Trump. File photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Feb. 10 (UPI) — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said Sunday that negotiations regarding President Donald Trump‘s border wall have stalled, presenting the possibility of another government shutdown.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Shelby, R- Ala., said there was about a 50 percent chance of negotiations failing and leading to another government shutdown at the end of the week, as Congressional Democrats and Republicans disagree on limiting the amount of people who can be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because time is ticking away but we’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE, that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S. and they want a cap on them. We don’t want a cap on that,” Shelby said.

Shelby noted Democrats also sought to limit the number of beds available at detention centers and would only agree to spend $2 billion on a physical border barrier, while Republicans oppose placing restrictions on detentions and Trump has requested $5.7 billion for the barrier.

“I’m not confident we’re going to get there, I’m hoping we will get there,” Shelby said regarding the prospect of reaching a deal.

Shelby added based on discussions with Trump, he believes a deal with Democrats could be reached if they are “willing to meet us halfway.”

“We haven’t reached a number on the barrier yet, but we’re working and we’re hoping we can get there. But we’ve got to get fluid again. We got to start movement,” he said.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., offered a more optimistic view about the prospect of the deal, saying “negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through.”

“We are not to a point where we can announce a deal, negotiations are still going on,” Tester said on Fox News Sunday. “There are good people on this committee so I have confidence that hopefully we will get something done very soon.”

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News the prospect of another government shutdown and Trump declaring a national emergency to secure funds for the barrier are “absolutely on the table.”

“The president is going to build the wall,” Mulvaney said. “We will take as much money as you can give us and then we will go find money someplace else legally in order to secure that southern barrier. But this is going to get built with or without Congress.”

Mulvaney added however that it may not be necessary for Trump to secure the funds through an emergency declaration, but that such a move would be legal.

“There are other funds of money that are available to him through something called reprogramming, there is money he can get at and is legally allowed to spend,” he said. “I think it needs to be said again and again: all of this is going to be legal. There are statutes on the books as to how any president can do this.”

Congress has until Friday to reach a new deal due to a bill signed by Trump on Jan. 25, reopening the government for three weeks after the longest shutdown in government history, lasting 35 days.

The deal for border barrier funding was at the center of the historic partial shutdown after Trump turned down a funding bill that didn’t include the requested funds.

Mulvaney told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that Trump likely wouldn’t sign a new deal that fails to provide funding.

“So let’s say the hardcore, left wing of the Democrat Party prevails in this negotiation and they put a bill on the president’s desk with, say, zero money for the wall or $800 million, some absurdly low number. How does he sign that? He cannot in good faith sign that,” he said.


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