Negotiators from both parties say they have a tentative deal to avoid a US government shutdown

A construction crew works on replacing the US-Mexico border fence as seen from Tijuana, in Baja California state, Mexico, on January 9, 2019. |
Guillermo Arias | AFP | Getty Images

Congressional negotiators said they reached a tentative deal Monday to fund the government and avoid another shutdown.

As always, President Donald Trump will hold the fate of any potential border security agreement in his hands. The announcement came only minutes before the president took the rally stage in the Texas border city of El Paso to argue that “walls save lives” as he made the case for his proposed border barrier.

The top four congressional appropriators emerged from a meeting on border security funding Monday night and announced an agreement in principle to fund the government past a midnight Friday deadline. The group, including Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., did not immediately give details of the deal or say when they would release bill text.

A congressional source told CNBC it would put about $1.4 billion toward physical barriers, but not a wall. It would include about 55 new miles of bollard fencing. The agreement would also reduce the cap for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds by about 17 percent from the current 49,057 to 40,520, according to the source.

A bill could get unveiled late Tuesday or early Wednesday. But that timing could change.

If passed, the measure would avoid reopening fresh wounds from a 35-day partial closure in December and January. About 800,000 federal workers were furloughed or worked without pay, missing two paychecks during the funding lapse.They face the prospect of more financial hardship if nine federal departments, or about a quarter of the government, close again.

The measure’s passage depends on Trump’s support. The president said during Monday’s rally that he’d heard about a developing deal before he took the stage but did not hear the details. He contended that the agreement did not matter because “we’re building the wall anyway.”

Funding lapsed in December, when Republicans held both chambers of Congress, after the president threatened to veto any plan that did not include $5.7 billion to build his proposed border wall. He deterred GOP lawmakers from voting to keep the government open. In recent days, the president has appeared more willing to accept a deal that does not include that full sum.

The $1.4 billion for physical barriers in the developing congressional agreement is less than the $1.6 billion offer from Senate Democrats that Trump refused before the last shutdown.

In December, Trump in part took cues from his allies in conservative media who railed against a deal without wall funding. The initial reaction from those supporters was not glowing Monday night. Fox News host and Trump confidant Sean Hannity called it a “garbage compromise.”

Over the weekend, lawmakers on a conference committee trying to hash out a funding deal showed doubts about striking a deal to prevent a shutdown. The meeting Monday was seen as a last-ditch effort to get talks back on track.

A disagreement over whether to cap the number of ICE detention beds for interior enforcement had derailed talks. Democrats’ push to limit the detention beds led President Donald Trump to claim that the party does not “want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens!”

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