UPDATE: Trump to sign spending measure, declare national emergency at southern border

UPDATE  — 2/14, 9:17 p.m. EST: Congress approved legislation on Thursday appropriating $328 billion for approximately 25 percent of federal government agencies set to run out of funds by the end of Friday.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump will ultimately sign the legislation and declare a state of emergency along the U.S. southern border to release additional funds to build more fencing.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Trump will “take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

 

Days ahead of a deadline to keep federal agencies open, congressional lawmakers have reached an agreement which, if signed by President Trump, will avoid a government shutdown and partially satisfy White House demands for border security funding.

According to congressional aides, a deal was struck Monday evening in which seven bills will be presented for floor votes.  One bill, which covers funding the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing border security responsibilities, would maintain the department’s operations until the end of the current fiscal year.

The bill also sets aside $1.38 billion for President Trump’s long-sought southern border wall.  Trump sought $5.7 billion to fulfill his campaign promise of a wall along the whole of the boundary with Mexico, but is expected to sign the legislation which will keep the government funded through at least Sept. 30.

Under the tentative agreement, the $1.3 billion would pay for border fencing along a 55-mile stretch of the border shared with Mexico in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.  The new section of barriers would mirror existing border metal slats.

Also included in the deal is an agreement to reduce the number of beds at border detention centers from 49,000 to 40,000, and increased funding for technology at the border and points of entry.

Although congressional leaders signaled approval and relief over reaching the deal, concern remains over whether the bills would be signed by President Trump.

Despite being briefed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who lead Senate negotiations for the agreement, Mr. Trump expressed skepticism, saying: “I can’t say I’m happy,”

Echoing Shelby, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said:

“He got a pretty good deal here.  I hope he signs the bill.”

The bill received mixed reviews on the other side of the aisle, but appeared acceptable to most. Expressing optimism the bills could be approved in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was upbeat the last-second details could be overcome.

“When it is finished and it is filed, then we can move expeditiously. It could be done by (Wednesday),” Pelosi said after emerging from a meeting with congressional Democrats.

Seconding Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), told reporters he was convinced the bill could pass muster by the week’s end.

If passed, the bills would avoid a partial government shutdown.  In December 2018, negotiations between the White House and Congress broke down leading to the longest government shutdown in history.  From Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, hundreds of government employees were furloughed.

 

[Politico] [AP] [Wall Street Journal] [Photo courtesy Fox News]

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