Top Dem: We would support $5.7B for a 'smart wall'

 

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday said Democrats would be willing to provide $5.7 billion in border security funding to end the shutdown if the money is used for measures like a "smart wall."

"Using the figure that the president has put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing what I like to call using a smart wall," Clyburn told reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting. "These are the types of things that we are going to be putting forward."

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Democrats have expressed support for border security funding that includes advanced scanning technology, increased infrastructure and more border patrol agents.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE, meanwhile, has demanded $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The impasse with Democrats has resulted in the partial government shutdown that has now lasted for more than a month and left 800,000 federal workers without paychecks.

Democrats panned Trump's proposal over the weekend for Congress to provide $5.7 billion for a border wall in exchange for temporarily granting deportation protections for immigrants under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years.

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Kentucky Democrat: McConnell's agenda driven by 'power without a purpose' MORE (D-Ky.), the chairman of the House budget committee, indicated that Democrats were open to building barriers and potentially even walls in some places provided there was evidence to show it would increase security.

“If we open the government, we’re open to any kind of negotiation,” he said, answering in the affirmative when asked if that included talks over building a wall.

Democrats, he said, are working on a letter to the White House laying out the border issues they are willing to discuss.

“I think what the letter is designed to do is to establish a framework for what we’d like to negotiate,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday McConnell: Senate impeachment trial will begin in January MORE (R-Ky.) has scheduled votes on Thursday on competing bills that would fully reopen the government. Neither measure appears to have the necessary support to pass.

The first vote will be on Trump's proposal to reopen the government with $5.7 billion for the border wall and temporary legal protections for TPS and DACA recipients. If that fails, the Senate would then consider a stopgap measure to fund the government through Feb. 8.

Niv Elis contributed to this report which was updated at 4:46 p.m.