House Dems rallying behind border deal with 55 miles of barriers

House Democrats are rallying behind a package to fund border security and prevent a government shutdown, with the Democratic Caucus chairman predicting "overwhelming" support when the legislation hits the floor later this week. 

The package includes almost $1.4 billion in funding to construct new border barriers — an issue causing contention with some of the more liberal members of the caucus — but party leaders appear to have assuaged much of the concern and are expecting widespread support for the package when it reaches the floor Thursday

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"It appears to me, based on the conversation that we had today, that the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus will support this legislation," Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesBipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' GOP leader needles Dems on anti-Semitism resolution Dems under fire put brakes on Omar resolution MORE (D-N.Y.), the caucus chairman, said Wednesday morning following a closed-door meeting of the Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. 

Rep. Tony CardenasAntonio (Tony) CardenasMORE (D-Calif.), who heads the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, framed the package as a victory for Democrats and said he's ready to back it.

"It's not where we want to be long-term, but I think it's progress," he said. 

"We feel good. I feel good about it."

But not everyone is on board with the border barrier funding.

Rep. Juan VargasJuan C. VargasCriticism of Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism Ocasio-Cortez fundraises off claim that AIPAC is 'coming after' her, Omar, Tlaib The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi's challenge: Getting Dems back on same page MORE (D), who represents a Southern California border district, said that, for the communities most directly affected by border barriers, there is little practical distinction between a wall and a fence.

"It's a waste of money and we shouldn't give him one penny," Vargas said.

Other border Democrats remain undecided.

"The barriers are going to be an issue," said freshman Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarOn The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses Hispanic Caucus demands probe into Trump Organization hiring undocumented workers O'Rourke nabs 2020 endorsement from his successor in Congress MORE (D-Texas). "I want to know where and what they look like."

Jeffries sought to downplay any divisions within the caucus, emphasizing that the 55 miles of new barriers denied President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE his promised concrete wall

"We made clear from the beginning that we would not support funding for a medieval border wall that would be built from sea to shining sea. We also indicate that we were prepared to support evidence-based barriers where necessary," he said.

"The conference committee has come together and concluded that it is reasonable to support 55 miles of additional barrier in a  manner that is consistent with our evidence-based approach to find common ground and improve the security along our border."

Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkChances of passing Dem budget are '50-50,' says chairman House to vote Thursday on anti-Semitism resolution Dems struggle to unify after GOP embarrasses them on procedure MORE (D-Mass.), vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, said the 55 miles of new barriers would be broken down into 45 miles of new fencing and 10 miles of levee walls, which can also act as flood control measures.  

The package will also include $500 million for low-income housing, and an additional $1 billion for conducting the census, Jeffries said.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality House to take up gender pay gap, Violence Against Women Act House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality bill MORE (D-Md.) said the legislative language could be released as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOvernight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide GOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests MORE (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests House Republicans find silver lining in minority MORE (R-La.) would not commit to voting for the package.

Scott Wong contributed.