Sunday, April 21, 2019

Lawmakers sending mixed signals as a second shutdown is nearby

The president, congressional negotiators and other lawmakers are sending conflicting signals about whether a deal to fund border security and avoid another government shutdown is possible before the Friday deadline.

The Senate’s top Republican negotiator, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), yesterday said the talks had stalled in part because Democrats were raising new concerns over deterring immigrants at the border while President Trump accused Democratic leaders of interfering in the talks. “I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because time is ticking away,” Shelby said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Shelby put the chances of a deal at “50-50” and warned “the specter of a shutdown is always out there.” Trump questioned whether Democrats were negotiating in good faith; “I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” he tweeted Sunday.

An administration official told The Hill that in a leadership staff meeting Saturday Democrats said they wanted to reduce the number of beds ICE has available for detained immigrants from 38,000 to 16,000. A House Democratic aide confirmed that Democrats have proposed a cap on the number of ICE detention beds and said the proposal will “force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants.”

Negotiators had hoped to complete a deal by Monday and last week even said they could wrap up before the weekend, but now it appears the impasse will drag well into this week. Congress must approve, and Trump must sign, a spending package by Friday to avoid another partial government shutdown.

THE HILL