Congressional negotiators announced an “agreement in principle” Monday night on a broad spending bill they hope will satisfy President Donald Trump’s demands for additional border barriers and avert another government shutdown at the end of this week.
The compromise represents a remarkable turnaround for negotiators tasked with staving off another shutdown, just hours after lawmakers on both sides said the talks were on the brink of falling apart.
“We reached an agreement in principle between us on all the homeland security and the other six bills,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a lead Republican negotiator. “The White House has been consulted all along,” Shelby added, noting that he’s been given “latitude” to negotiate on behalf of the administration.
The tentative deal includes $1.375 billion for physical barriers — a type of fencing that resembles the “steel slats” that Trump has specifically called for, according to a congressional aide briefed on the talks. It includes a total of 55 miles, which is just 9 miles shy of Trump’s last budget request.
In exchange, Democrats agreed to drop their demand to restrict the number of people who can be detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement at a time. Negotiators agreed to fund a total of 40,520 detention beds for ICE, a roughly 17 percent reduction from current levels, the aide said.
But one Republican source was quick to dispute Democrats’ account, saying the $1.375 billion in barrier funding can be used for “new miles of border wall.” The same Republican source suggested that the deal had enough flexibility to actually reach the president’s requested level of 52,000 beds, far above the negotiated level.