Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Democrats offer includes money for border security, but not for a wall

Congressional Democrats’ opening offer in the conference committee negotiations over border security includes money for new customs agents, technology, and humanitarian relief but not a penny for a border wall.

It’s an offer President Trump is certain to refuse. In a series of tweets Thursday, the president explained that congressional Republicans are “wasting their time” talking with Democrats if they “are not going to give money to build the DESPERATELY needed WALL!”.

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation” however, Pelosi did indicate she was open to vehicle barriers known as “Normandy fencing.” “If the president wants to call that a wall, he can call that a wall,” she said.

Trump’s definition of what constitutes a border wall has shifted over time; in the past, he indicated he wanted a 1,000-mile long concrete wall. More recently, he has said he could live with a “steel slat barrier” that resembles the bollard fencing already in place along parts of the border.

The lawmakers on the conference committee working on a compromise are optimistic they can reach a deal because they have funded border fencing previously. “Because of the work we did years ago we’ve already built almost 700 miles of fencing on our nation’s border,” said Rep. David Price, D-N.C. “Whatever the president may say it is far from an open border. Meanwhile, the number of undocumented immigrants crossing our border or attempting to cross remain not at alarming highs but at historic lows.”

Lawmakers have until Feb. 15 to reach a deal. If they fail to come up with legislation that Trump is willing to sign, the president has said he is “certainly” willing to allow another partial government shutdown or circumvent Congress all together and obtain the funds for his wall by declaring a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.

USA TODAY

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