Shutdown Negotiations At An Impasse As Friday Deadline Rapidly Approaches

A sign along the highway near the Mexican border shows support for President Donald Trump on January 24, 2019 near Tecate, California.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Lawmakers found themselves in the same place as where they started as they scramble to negotiate a compromise that would avert a second government shutdown on Friday. Bipartisan talks stalled on Saturday and sources familiar with the situation say that they are concerned that a deal might not happen in time.

Lawmakers have been working since the government opened at the end of January to finalize funding for border security before the February 15 deadline, according to Politico. Donald Trump has demanded $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while lawmakers in Congress have floated a final number between $1.3 billion and $2 billion dollars.

Right now, ICE and Homeland Security are being funded through a short-term spending bill signed on January 25, when Trump announced an end to the longest government shutdown in United States history. Since then, lawmakers on the right have suggested that Trump would accept about $2 billion for wall funding, but Democrats balked at the number.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that negotiations had reached an impasse.

“I think the talks are stalled right now,” Shelby said. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there.”

The sticking point seems to be the number of beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have access to. Democrats are hoping to limit the number of beds as a way to rein in what they see as aggressive enforcement by ICE agents. Republicans are apparently unwilling to negotiate further until Democrats back away from their demand.

“We’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE,” Shelby said.”I’m not confident we’re going to get there, I’m hoping we will get there.”

Shelby put the odds of reaching a deal at 50/50.

According to the Washington Post, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney echoed Shelby’s statements on Fox News Sunday.

“It’s all over the map, and I think it’s all over the map because of the Democrats,” Mulvaney said. “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.”

Mulvaney also said on NBC’s Meet The Press that if Democrats refuse to provide any funding for the wall, the resulting bill almost certainly would be rejected by the president.

One source told Politico that Democrats planned to discuss options on Sunday via telephone.

“I would say all is not lost but it’s certainly not the place anybody wanted to be,” said the source.