Just the Facts

Five Facts on Efforts to Negotiate Border Security Funding

By Emma Petasis
February 1, 2019 | Blog

Here are five facts on efforts to negotiate border security funding:

Seventeen members of Congress have been tasked with negotiating a compromise on border-security funding to avoid another government shutdown.

The group is composed of 10 representatives and seven senators from both parties, all of whom serve on their respective appropriations committee. It will be led by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and will include Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL). In addition, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the ranking members on both Appropriations Committees will also serve important roles on the panel. Other notable negotiators include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who helped broker a key provision on border security in a massive overhaul of the immigration system that passed the Senate in 2013, but was ultimately unable to get through the House.

President Trump has made clear he will not support a deal that doesn’t provide funding for a border wall.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president did not express optimism that negotiators would be able to reach an agreement, giving them “less than 50-50” odds, but conceded that there are “some very good people on that board.” He then went on to say he doubted he would accept a deal that allocated less than his requested $5.7 billion for a wall. In a later statement, the president drew a harder line, saying “If there’s no wall, it [a potential deal] doesn’t work.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear she will not support a deal that does provide funding for a border wall.

Since becoming speaker, Nancy Pelosi has not budged in refusing to allocate any money for a border wall. In an interview Thursday she unequivocally confirmed her stance, stating, “There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation.” However, she did leave one negotiating lane open, stating that she could be open to a deal that would enhance existing fencing along the border, such as heightening short barriers designed to stop cars, so that they could also impede immigrants traveling on foot.

Democrats’ first offer in the negotiations did not include any money for a wall.

On Thursday, Democrats delivered their opening offer, which included money for more customs agents, technology, and humanitarian relief, but lacked any funding for a wall. Specifically, the deal allocated $675 million for scanners at points of entry, $502 million for “humanitarian concerns at the border,” and $400 million in border-security technology and 1,000 new customs agents. The offer received a cold reception from many Republican lawmakers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an ally of President Trump  who has been heavily involved with immigration negotiations in the past, tweeted, “House Democrats’ border barrier/wall offer is PATHETIC.”

If the 17-member panel is unable to reach an agreement by February 15, large portions of the federal government could shut down again.

Hundreds of thousands of government workers are watching the negotiations with apprehension, as they fear another prolonged shutdown. While President Trump accepted a short-term deal that did not include wall funding in order to end the 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, he has indicated he would be open to once again shuttering the government. In his interview with The Wall Street Journal, the President stated that another shutdown was “certainly an option.” However, White House staff have also reportedly been working on setting the groundwork for the president to declare a national emergency to build the wall. On Friday, the president added that there’s a “good chance” he would do so.

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