What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Border wall funds debated by congressional committee

A bipartisan group of Congress members working on a deal to avoid another partial government shutdown next Friday are still negotiating some major issues including the funding amount for increased border security and number of detention beds. Annie Karni of the New York Times joins Hari Sreenivasan for an update on the talks.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    A small group of Congress members continues to work on a proposal to avoid another partial government shutdown. Their deadline is next Friday and any deal requires President Trump's signature. The New York Times reports there is progress and that negotiators hope to introduce their plan on Monday. That's the same day President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in El Paso, Texas.

    When the last shutdown ended, the president still demanded $5.7 billion for a border wall although it could also be a steel barrier. And Democrats at the time said they would not authorize spending for a wall. For more on the weekend talks and the details of a possible deal, New York Times White House correspondent Annie Karni joins us now from Washington D.C. We have anything to be optimistic about, at this point?

  • Annie Karni:

    It does look like they are getting closer to being able to find a deal to avoid a second government shutdown. The White House seems more open to it coming down off of the $5.7 billion number, which was a non-negotiable last round. Now it sounds like something in the range of $2 billion. The question is for fencing or for additional border security is something that they rejected last time around and that the president is more open to this time.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Well, what are the final kind of deal points that seem hard to negotiate for both sides?

  • Annie Karni:

    Well of course there's the definition of wall – what's a wall, what's a physical barrier. Democrats are saying you know they don't want any money for a physical structure. The number of detention beds is actually something that they're working on right now. Democrats want a smaller number of detention beds and other options to avoid family separation. Republicans want more beds so that's another number. And then it's just $2 billion. Democrats are saying they don't want to, that $2 billion is too much. Last time around they only offered $500 million for for security and beefed up measures. So it's just finding a number that both sides can claim as a win and figuring out where that limit is.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    There's also this discussion seems to have taken out the kind of more extreme elements of the most progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which says defund ICE altogether. Very conservative wing of the Republican Party would never stop at anything less than $5.7 billion, right? So this conversation that you're describing seems to be a much more moderate compromise approach?

  • Annie Karni:

    It definitely is. And there could be pushback from the left, from Democrats from the left, exactly on those issues you talked about. On the right, the Freedom Caucus is, it looks like they will line up behind the president if it's something in the realm of $2 billion. And then another piece of the discussion that has really kind of fallen by the wayside is this idea that he could declare a national emergency.

    The president seems to have been convinced by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans and members of his own administration that he will be on an island if he does that and it's a losing proposition for him. So that was seen as his exit ranp that he had the power to do this and was always something he could do if he couldn't get a deal. And I'm not hearing anyone talking seriously about that option anymore at all, which is part of the reason why he might be looking more carefully at actually agreeing to come off the number. He doesn't have another out.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In broad strokes, aren't we where we started in terms…

  • Annie Karni:

    Yes.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    …a deal that really even Vice President Pence had at one point suggested along with where the Democrats were?

  • Annie Karni:

    Very much so. There is a deal that Pence brought that was actually about this number that we're talking about and the president rejected it publicly at the time in December. It's basically the same deal that now he has to be open to again because I think he realizes there's, he's run out of options. But yes, and the Democrats are kind of looking at the same numbers and the same deal they offered him last time around. What happened was that a 35 day government shutdown demonstrated to the White House. I've talked to officials who say they recognize they lost that battle at a P.R. level. They recognize that they ran out the string on how long the government can be closed until it stops functioning and they can't do that again. So there's just fewer options, which makes the ones that were objected last time look like potentials this time.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right Annie Karni of the New York Times joining us from Washington tonight. Thanks a lot.

  • Annie Karni:

    Thank you.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest