Report: Congress Close to a Deal on Border Fencing

Although there is no mention of a wall per se in the deal, House and Senate negotiators are closing in on a possible border security agreement that would likely include some kind of fencing in certain areas along the southern border, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., reportedly told lawmakers in a private lunch Thursday.

“I gave a report on meeting with the president and I thought things were on the positive trajectory as far as maybe concluding the funding,” Shelby said. “But we are not there yet.”

Shelby said Thursday afternoon that the next 72 hours would be critical if Democrats and Republicans are to reach a long-sought deal on border security that would also allow passage of seven spending bills and ensure full government funding by a Feb. 15 deadline.

“We’ve got serious negotiations going on,” Shelby said.

The main sticking point is how much money to provide for border barriers and what those barriers will look like.

Democrats appear willing to agree to funding for some new fencing in targeted areas as well as upgrades to existing barriers, they told the Washington Examiner.

The deal is likely to cover far fewer miles than Trump wants, however, and the barriers will be far less robust than the steel slat wall Trump favors.

Shelby would not disclose whether Trump would agree to less than the $5.7 billion he has requested for border barriers, or a wall, as he calls it. But he hinted Trump may be willing to make a deal on price.

“It was the most positive meeting I’ve had with him regarding numbers,” Shelby said. “He seemed to be very reasonable and, I thought, urging us to get a legislative conclusion to that. He’s being very reasonable but I can’t get into the details.”

Shelby said the accord would include a three-pronged approach to border security, based on a classified briefing provided by border security officials to the negotiators this week.

It would include more money for technology to improve port security, through which most illegal drugs are transported, additional border security personnel, and barriers.

“Technology is very important, ports of entry, manpower is very important,” Shelby said. “But without barriers, none of it will work. We are talking about a comprehensive approach.”

Shelby said negotiators need to complete work by Monday in order to provide any legislative deal to work its way through both the House and Senate.

Source: Washington Examiner


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