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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 JeffriesRace debate grips Congress Cheney: Afghanistan withdrawal a 'huge propaganda victory' for terrorists Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP 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. VargasHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Hispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president 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 EscobarDemocrat: Ex-Trump aide Miller should be jailed for human rights violations Democrats play defense on border crisis Democrats move smaller immigration bills while eyeing broad overhaul 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 TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he 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 ClarkPelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated 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 HoyerHouse panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Race debate grips Congress Watchdog: Capitol Police need 'culture change' MORE (D-Md.) said the legislative language could be released as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy says Gaetz won't be punished unless charges filed Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election MORE (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Scalise: House would 'take action' against Gaetz if DOJ filed charges Scalise carries a milk carton saying Harris is 'missing' at the border MORE (R-La.) would not commit to voting for the package.

Scott Wong contributed.