- President Donald Trump announced his support for a short-term solution to reopen the US government on Friday.
- Part of the agreement makes Congress form a conference committee in which Republicans and Democrats from both chambers will hash out a border-security plan.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly declined to take a hard stance on whether that could include funding for a partial border wall, a position on which she held firm throughout the duration of the record-long government shutdown.
WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not rule out funding for additional physical barriers along the US-Mexico border, marking a change in the position she held firm for the duration of the record-long 35-day partial government shutdown.
In a press conference on Friday shortly after President Donald Trump relented and agreed to sign a continuing resolution to reopen the government until February 15, Pelosi left the details of whatever border-security package emerges up to the conference committee that will convene to address homeland security.
“The work of the conference committee will draw out everyone’s view of what is the best way to protect our borders,” Pelosi said when asked directly about funding for physical barriers along the border, adding that common areas with the White House are building up US ports of entry to better detect “drugs, guns, contraband, and the rest.”
“We’ll leave it up to our appropriators to come to that,” she added. “But some of the things we were going to discuss were where we think, where we have evidence-based knowledge about how we best secure our border.”
Pelosi declined to answer another question about wall funding at the end of the press conference. Previously, Pelosi described the border wall as “immoral, ineffective, and expensive,” drawing a hard line on the issue during the entire shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was also in the press conference, said, “I’m very optimistic that the conference committee can come to a good conclusion and we can avoid another shutdown,” without addressing specifics.
In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said, “We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea – we never did.”
“Because we have barriers at the border where natural structures are as good as anything that we can build,” he said. “They’re already there. They have been there for millions of years.”
“Our proposed structures will be in predetermined high-risk locations that have been specifically identified by the Border Patrol to stop illicit flows of people and drugs,” Trump added. “No border-security plan can ever work without a physical barrier. Just doesn’t happen.”
Among other things, Pelosi also did not commit to putting the State of the Union address back on, which became a focal point of the back-and-forth fighting between the president and the speaker of the House during part of the shutdown.
“The State of the Union is not planned now,” she said. “What I said to the president is when government is open, we will discuss a mutually agreeable date, and I’ll look forward to doing that and welcoming the president to the House of Representatives for the State of the Union.”
Whether or not wall funding will be included in the final product of what the conference committee produces is unclear, meaning another shutdown could be on the horizon if Trump is not satisfied with the bill.
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