- Another shutdown of the federal government could be on the horizon, two weeks after the end of the longest one in US history.
- Ongoing border security talks in Congress stalled on Saturday, according to lawmakers, aides, and the acting White House Chief of Staff.
- President Trump has called for $US5.7 billion to fund construction of a wall on the US border with Mexico, a proposal Democrats have refused, and so far lawmakers have found no acceptable middle ground.
- Lawmakers face a February 15 deadline to pass new legislation or risk the government shutting down again.
Two weeks after the end of a record-breaking 35-day shutdown of the federal government that caused delayed paychecks, massive airport disruptions, and damage to national parks, another seems to be on the way.
Border security talks between lawmakers in Congress broke down over the weekend, according to lawmakers and aides at the US Capitol, as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported. Lawmakers face a February 15 deadline to pass new legislation or risk the government shutting down again.
“I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m not confident we’re going to get there,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby from Alabama, the lead Republican negotiator,said on Fox News, Sunday.
Lawmakers have been lobbying deals back and forth in attempts to come to an agreement on border security funding. The Trump administration has demanded $US5.7 billion to fund construction of a physical barrier along the US border with Mexico, a proposal Democrats in Congress have refused. Democrats and Republicans have been trying to find a number between $US1.3 billion and $US2 billion that both sides would accept, according to the Post.
Republican lawmakers said last week that Trump would accept around $US2 billion for the wall, but Democrats rejected that number, Politico reported.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told moderator Chuck Todd that “you absolutely cannot” rule out a government shutdown at the end of the week.
White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tells me: "You absolutely cannot" rule OUT a shutdown this week #MTP
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 10, 2019
Mulvaney said the border security talks are “all over the map, and I think it’s all over the map because of the Democrats. The president really does believe that there is a national security crisis and a humanitarian crisis at the border and he will do something about it.”
Republican lawmakers refused a recent deal proposal from Democrats because it included a demand for a cap on the number of detention beds that ICE would have access to, a source told Politico.
Mulvaney said Trump will find the money to fund the border wall elsewhere if lawmakers don’t agree to his $US5.7 billion demand.
“You cannot take the shutdown off the table and you cannot take $US5.7 billion off the table,” he said. “But if you end up some place in the middle, what you’ll probably see is the president say: ‘OK, and then I’ll go find the money someplace else.”
Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency in order to secure the funds for the wall. Experts are divided on whether or not such a move would be legal, and lawmakers on both sides have criticised that potential course of action, as Business Insider’s Michelle Mark previously reported.
“Some Republicans fear it sets a precedent that could later be used by a Democratic president to pursue liberal policies, while Democrats have called it a misuse of executive power,” Mark wrote.
The federal government’s current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, February 16.
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