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We’ve previously written that Congress and President Trump have until this Friday, February 15, to avert another government shutdown. As of yesterday, February 11, a team of 17 House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement in principle to avoid what would have been the second government shutdown in just two months.
According to CNN, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says that the goal for today, February 12, is to turn yesterday’s deal into a formal, written agreement. The agreement will then have to pass in both the House and the Senate, after which point it will reach President Trump’s desk for his signature. CNN also describes Trump’s willingness to sign the agreement into effect as “a wild card hanging over the negotiations.”
The agreement reached yesterday provides $1.4 billion to construct Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. This figure is far less than the $5.7 billion that the White House sought. This funding translates to 55 miles of new construction across the border instead of the 215 miles for which the White House pushed.
Prior to yesterday’s agreement, the House and Senate negotiation team was struggling to find common ground. On Friday, Feb. 8, Democrats demanded a 16,500-bed cap on the number of detention beds reserved for obtaining undocumented immigrants who are already inside the U.S., rather than attempting to enter at the U.S.-Mexico border. This cap would have acted as an entirely new piece of policy, and its emergence so late into negotiations caused Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, to pause all conversations.
Furthermore, Democrats had demanded to lower the number of immigration detention beds funded to 35,520 from its current 40,520. Trump and the Republican party had asked to increase it to 52,000, which represents an approximately 20% increase. CNN reports that yesterday’s agreement keeps the current 40,520 figure.
It is yet to be seen whether this agreement makes it through Congress and into the White House. It’s also still not out of the question that Trump could use the border situation to declare a national emergency, which could be more concerning than any of the developments we’ve reported here.