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Border Security Negotiators Reach Deal to Avoid Shutdown; Trump Does Not Approve
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12 Feb 2019 02:40 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)


The 17-member negotiating committee tasked with reaching a deal to fund border security by Friday to prevent another partial government shutdown has reached a deal "on principle." However, it has no chance of moving ahead without Donald Trump's support, and he has said he is not "happy" or "thrilled."


Trump promised his followers more than two years ago if he were elected he would build a border wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the country and promised Mexico would pay for it. Halfway through his term, he can't get Mexico to pay for it and has decided the cost burden should fall to the taxpayers. 

He and lawmakers worked all last year to hammer out a deal and never could, only coming up with partial deals to keep things moving along. Eventually Trump shut the government down in December with no deal in place. After it was closed for over a month, he reopened it for two weeks and tasked the committee with coming up with a deal.


But it was known all along that a deal for Trump means he gets his way. He wants $5.7 billion for some type of physical barrier at the border. The Democrats weren't willing to go any higher than $1.3 billion but eventually did move up to $2 billion, vowing to go no higher. 

Also in contention is the number of beds at detention facilities. The Democrats want to cap this to force border security to focus more on arresting the more heinous criminals rather than all immigrants, including those who are law-abiding and looking for asylum.


Monday the agreement was made during closed-door negotiations. They came together to work on this deal despite talks breaking down over the weekend. 

"What brought us back together, I thought, tonight, was we didn't want that to happen," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), the lead Republican in the committee, with regards to the effort to avoid a second shutdown.


"Some may be happy, some may not be happy," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey (D-NY), who was in the meetings and ran the agreement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi who signed off on it. "We did the best we could." 

The deal that was hammered out includes $1.37 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the border rather than the larger amount Trump wanted for 200 miles of walls. It omits the cap Democrats wanted on detained immigrants within the United States but does limit overall detention beds maintained by ICE. However, GOP aides insisted there would be enough money and flexibility to keep the current amount of beds and add more when they are needed.


However, for this deal to go through. It needs to officially pass both the House and the Senate and needs Trump to sign it into law. 

Fox News personality Sean Hannity, who is a close ally of Trump's, called the new deal a "garbage compromise."


Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the House Freedom Caucus leader who is another close ally of Trump's, said in a text message, "This does not represent a fraction of what the president has promised the American people." 

He added, "I don't speak for the president, but I can't imagine he will be applauding something so lacking."


But this just encouraged Lowey more, saying on CNN, "That probably confirms for me that it's a good deal." 

Trump held a rally in El Paso on Monday and told the crowd he was briefed on the progress of the committee, then declared, "Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway."


Tuesday Morning Trump gave his official opinion of the deal. "I can't say I'm happy; I can't say I'm thrilled," he told reporters.  

He added that he didn't think it would cause another government shutdown, yet "if you did have it, it's the Democrats fault," then doubled down on his thoughts, stating, "I would hope that there won't be a shutdown. I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us."


Conservative TV host Laura Ingraham spoke up against the deal as well. "No Republican should support this border deal charade," she tweeted. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was more welcoming. "I look forward to reviewing the full text as soon as possible and hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order," he commented from the Senate floor.


Immigrant advocacy groups are criticizing the deal as well. While Detention Watch Network policy director Mary Small called the deal "an embarrassing defeat for Trump," she also found it to be making "morally wrong and deeply harmful concessions." 

"In particular, this deal actually increases funding available for immigration detention by about 5,000 people per day, helping to grow the machinery of deportation and further heighten the risk faced by immigrant communities across the country."


What Trump and others who oppose the deal may be forgetting is what a negotiation is. Both sides have to give a little to find something both can accept. There will be no clear winners in a true negotiated deal.  

This was a bipartisan deal, no matter who the president pokes his short, small fingers at. He's not going to get his $5.7 billion, and Democrats aren't going to be able to get zero physical barriers and less beds. Neither side was going to get what they started with.

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