AP

Congress Nears Votes To End Border Security Brawl With Trump

Feb 14, 2019, 7:46 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:15 pm

Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress rolled toward resolving its border security brawl with President Donald Trump in uncommonly bipartisan fashion Thursday, preparing to approve a compromise averting a new government shutdown this weekend but providing a mere sliver of the billions Trump has demanded for a wall with Mexico.

With Trump’s halfhearted signature widely expected but not yet guaranteed, the Democratic-controlled House was poised to pass the sweeping measure Thursday evening, and the Republican-led Senate was expected to approve as well. Bargainers formally completed the accord moments before midnight Wednesday night.

Passage was virtually certain, with sizable numbers of both parties’ members set to vote “yes.” The only residue of suspense was whether Trump, despite clear signals he would go along, might reject the package and inject a fresh blast of chaos into the issue.

“Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn’t shut down,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chiming in after a guest chaplain opened Thursday’s session.

Migrants stand together along the U.S./Mexican border wall as they wait to turn themselves over to the U.S. Border Patrol on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. President Donald Trump visited the border city yesterday as he continues to campaign for more wall to be built along the border. Democrats in Congress are asking for other additional border security measures. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Migrants stand together along the U.S./Mexican border wall as they wait to turn themselves over to the U.S. Border Patrol on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. President Donald Trump visited the border city yesterday as he continues to campaign for more wall to be built along the border. Democrats in Congress are asking for other additional border security measures. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who’s been close to Trump, seemed to have more faith than that. He told reporters Trump is “certainly inclined to sign it” and “march toward filling in gaps” by using executive action to divert other budget funds into wall-building.

Trump’s assent would end a raucous legislative saga that commenced before Christmas and was ending, almost fittingly, on Valentine’s Day. The low point was the historically long 35-day partial federal shutdown, which Trump sparked and was in full force when Democrats took control of the House, compelling him to share power for the first time.

Trump yielded on the shutdown Jan. 25 after public opinion turned against him and congressional Republicans. He’d won not a nickel of the $5.7 billion he’d demanded for his wall but had caused missed paychecks for legions of federal workers and contractors and lost government services for countless others. It was a political fiasco for Trump and an early triumph for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The fight left both parties dead set against another shutdown. That sentiment weakened Trump’s hand and fueled the bipartisan deal, a pact that contrasts with the parties’ still-raging differences over health care, taxes and investigations of the president.

The product of nearly three weeks of talks, the agreement provides almost $1.4 billion for new barriers along the boundary. That’s less than the $1.6 billion for border security in a bipartisan Senate bill that Trump spurned months ago, and enough for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles he’d sought.

Notably, the word “wall” — which fueled many a chant at Trump campaign events and then his rallies as president — does not appear once in the 1,768 pages of legislation and explanatory materials. “Barriers” and “fencing” are the nouns of choice.

The compromise would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to gradually detain fewer immigrants. To the dismay of Democrats, it would still leave an agency many of them consider abusive holding thousands more immigrants than it did last year.

The measure contains money for improved surveillance equipment, more customs agents and humanitarian aid for detained immigrants. The overall bill also provides $330 billion to finance dozens of federal programs for the rest of the year, one-fourth of federal agency budgets.

Trump has talked for weeks about augmenting the agreement by taking executive action to divert money from other programs for wall construction, without congressional sign-off. He might declare a national emergency, which has drawn opposition from both parties, or invoke other authorities to tap funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts.

Those moves could prompt congressional resistance or lawsuits, but would help assuage supporters dismayed that the president is yielding.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, told reporters “it would be political suicide” if Trump signs the agreement and did nothing else to find added money.

The measure was expected to be carried by pragmatists from both parties. Many of Congress’ most liberal members were expected to oppose it, unwilling to yield an inch to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, while staunch conservatives preferred a bill that would go further.

“I made a promise to my community that I wouldn’t fund ICE,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a freshman who’s become a face of her party’s left wing and a leading proponent of eliminating the agency.

Though Trump lost the highest-profile issue at stake, he all but declared victory Wednesday.

At the White House, he contended that a wall “is being built as we speak.” Work on a small stretch of barriers is due to start this month in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley under legislation Congress approved last year.

Swallowing the deal would mark a major concession by Trump, who has spent months calling the situation at the southern border a national security crisis. In private conversations, Trump has called the congressional bargainers poor negotiators, said a person familiar with the conversations who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Trump has repeatedly vowed Mexico would pay for the wall, a suggestion that country has spurned. His descriptions of the wall’s size have fluctuated, at times saying it would cover 1,000 of the 2,000-mile boundary. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers.

Facing opposition from Trump, Democrats lost their bid to include language giving federal contractors back pay for wages lost during the last shutdown. Government workers have been paid for time they were furloughed or worked without paychecks.

Also omitted was an extension of the Violence Against Women Act. Democrats say this will give them a chance later this year to add protections for transgender people to that law.

___

Associated Press reporters Catherine Lucey and Padmananda Rama contributed.

KSL 5 TV Live

AP

(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Toyota recalls 280,000 pickups and SUVs because transmissions can deliver power even when in neutral

The recall is to fix a transmission problem that can let the vehicles creep forward while in neutral.

5 hours ago

Members of HM Coastguard Search and Rescue gather after homes were evacuated when a suspected Secon...

Pan Pylas

A World War II bomb prompted an evacuation in England before being taken to sea to be blown up

An unexploded World War II bomb has been safely transported through the eerily empty streets of the southwestern English port city of Plymouth.

13 hours ago

FILE: The University of Wyoming campus sign with the Wyoming Union in the background Friday March 2...

Mead Gruver

Highway crash in Colorado kills three University of Wyoming swimmers

A single-vehicle wreck on a highway in northern Colorado killed three members of the University of Wyoming swimming and diving team.

17 hours ago

This image provided by the Denver Police Department shows Miles Harford. Denver police are asking f...

Associated Press

Denver police search a former funeral home owner who kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people

Denver police are asking for the public's help in finding a former funeral home owner who they say kept a woman's body in a hearse for two years and also kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people.

1 day ago

FILE...

Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Seattle officer who struck and killed graduate student from India won’t face felony charges

Prosecutors in Washington state said Wednesday they will not file felony charges against a Seattle police officer who struck and killed a graduate student from India while responding to an overdose call.

2 days ago

In this screen grab from lapel camera video provided by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, movie...

Associated Press

Jury selection begins for trial of ‘Rust’ armorer in fatal 2021 shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors are pursuing accountability in the 2021 death of a cinematographer who was shot by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western movie “Rust."

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Congress Nears Votes To End Border Security Brawl With Trump