Details of a likely bipartisan border-security deal in Congress are being worked out after the White House indicated it will accept an agreement giving President Trump just a fraction of the money he's demanded for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Congressional negotiators said the money allocated to the border wall will be far below Trump’s requested figure of $5.7 billion, a demand that led to a showdown with congressional Democrats and the longest-ever federal government shutdown. The figure is likely to be somewhere around $1.6 billion.
The deal would not only partially fund the wall, it would also prevent another government shutdown next weekend. Trump threatened to go with the shutdown again, though congressional Republicans are unlikely to have the stamina for another shutdown for which they have been held responsible.
One White House aide indicated that Trump will accept whatever agreement comes out of the negotiations as he understands there isn’t enough willpower among Republicans to fight for the full border-wall funding.
But even with a breakthrough in negotiations, Democrats are insisting that the money given to the border security shouldn’t be just for the physical barrier.
“Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a border security compromise not be overly reliant on physical barriers,” Evan Hollander, a spokesman for Democrats who control the House Appropriations Committee, told the Associated Press. “We will not agree to $2 billion in funding for barriers.”
The White House may still attempt to get the additional funding for the wall by using executive action, though such a move is likely to be met with resistance and lawsuits.
The negotiations also include talks about the type and location of the barriers. The question of the number of beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could have for detained migrants has also been raised, in addition to some high-tech surveillance equipment and the number of personnel.
Still, some GOP lawmakers believe the deal’s details could be too much for Trump to swallow, with Rep. Mark Meadows saying “I'm not optimistic it'll be something the president can support.”
A bipartisan deal is likely to pass even without the votes of conservative Republicans, who demand more money for the border wall, and progressive Democrats, who oppose funding of immigration authorities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.