Congressional negotiators have kind of, sort of reached a border security deal.
After several hours of meetings on Monday, top appropriators in the House and Senate emerged from a closed-door session to announce that they had reached a funding agreement “in principle.”
“Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to be putting all the details together, and that’s all we can tell you now,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), according to NBC News.
The tentative agreement comes as yet another government shutdown deadline looms this Friday, and while it includes money for border barriers, it doesn’t contain any funds for a wall. As a congressional aide told Vox, the deal offers $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new border fencing, as well as funding for 40,520 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, a reduction from the current levels.
Interestingly enough, the funding for border barriers is actually less than the $1.6 billion in fencing funding offered by a bipartisan Senate agreement last year. And it’s far less than the $5.7 billion President Trump has demanded for a wall in recent requests.
The deal does not include a cap on detention beds used for interior enforcement, a previous Democratic ask. It also contains an additional $1.7 billion in funding dedicated to other resources like border security technology, NBC reports.
The details of the agreement are still being sketched out by lawmakers, with the final bill text expected later this week. While Democrats are likely to herald the agreement as a win since it doesn’t contain explicit wall money, Republicans appear poised to do the same, with one GOP source telling Politico that some of the barrier funding could still go toward a wall.
The ultimate bill package is set to include some more specifics and will contain all seven outstanding funding bills, which cover nine federal departments including Transportation, Agriculture, and, of course, Homeland Security. It’s the product of intensive talks between House and Senate Appropriations heads Shelby, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX).
Once congressional leaders hammer out all the details, the main question that remains is whether President Trump will sign it.
What comes next
The next day or so will be focused on fleshing out the final funding package.
After the text of the actual spending bills is complete, both the House and the Senate will have to approve the bills and send them to the president’s desk in advance of this Friday’s deadline in order to avert another shutdown.
Trump’s approval of the deal is a major wild card.
In the past, Trump has said he’d veto any spending bill that doesn’t contain wall funding, though he hasn’t indicated how he’ll act regarding this offer just yet. Some right-wing lawmakers like the House Freedom Caucus’s Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) have already expressed their concern with the agreement, which could influence how Trump responds.
Shelby reportedly signaled Monday that he was operating with leeway from the White House, though Trump offered few clues about his feelings on the deal during a rally in El Paso, Texas. “We probably have some good news, but who knows,” he said during the rally. “We need the wall, and it has to be built.”
As always, he was light on the details of just how this would happen.