Lawmakers reach ‘agreement in principle’ to avert shutdown
After hours of deliberations, Republican and Democratic appropriators said Monday night they have reached “an agreement in principle” on legislation to fund the government past the Friday deadline and avert another shutdown.
Lawmakers were scrambling to flesh out an agreement and have a budget measure ready before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires Friday.
Over the weekend, talks between a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators, largely made up of appropriators with experience on committees with oversight of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), had broken down over the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) beds in detention centers — which Democrats want to cap and reduce.
“For far too long, the Trump administration has been tearing communities apart with its cruel immigration policies,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, the lead House Democratic negotiator, wrote in a statement. She argued, “A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country.” A government data clearinghouse run by Syracuse University notes in an analysis of ICE data that most ICE detainees have no criminal conviction and almost 75 percent have no serious convictions.
But President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have slammed Democrats for demanding a cap, accusing them of trying to hinder ICE’s ability to detain violent criminals. “The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!” the president wrote on Twitter Monday morning.
The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2019
Mr. Trump is holding a rally in the Texas border city of El Paso Monday night and will likely argue for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico frontier and the implementation of hardline immigration policies to address what he has called a “national security crisis” near the border.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and a staunch White House ally, said Democrats derailed negotiations with what he branded as their “open borders” stance. “Cutting down on the number of beds which would actually force them being released into the United States — and so it’s more of an open borders policy that some Democrats have supported in the past,” he said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.
But Democrats believe the cap in detention beds would make the Trump administration prioritize deporting criminals and those who pose a threat to national security, rather than non-violent immigrants. “Claims that this proposal would allow violent criminals to be released are false,” Roybal-Allard added in her statement. “The Democrats’ proposed cap will ensure that the Trump administration adheres to congressional funding decisions and targets violent felons and other people who pose security risks for deportation, instead of pursuing reckless mass deportation policies that actually make us less safe.”
Last month, the president temporarily backed off his $5.7 billion demand for border wall funding and signed a continuing resolution to fund the government for three weeks. The short-term deal ended a 35-day stalemate in budget negotiations between the White House and lawmakers and brought a temporary reprieve to approximately 800,000 workers across nine federal departments who had been furloughed or working without pay.
Rebecca Kaplan, John Nolen and Alan He contributed to this report.