Key GOP senator: Border wall talks are stalled

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a key negotiator on President Trump’s demand for a border wall, said on Sunday that congressional talks are stalled, raising the prospect of another government shutdown at week’s end.

“I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because time is ticking away but we’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE, that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S. and they want a cap on them. We don’t want a cap on that,” Shelby said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Democrats have told GOP negotiators that they won’t agree to spend more than $2 billion on border barriers, well below the $5.7 billion that Trump has called for.{mosads}

In addition, a new issue has roiled the talks: a dispute over the number of beds at immigrant detention centers.

Democrats want to limit the number of people detained at the border, while Republicans oppose restricting the capacity of detention centers.

The two sides also have yet to reach agreement on how much money should be spent on border barriers, Shelby said on Sunday.

“We’ve got to start movement,” Shelby warned.

Trump on Sunday said that Democrats don’t appear really interested in reaching an agreement, citing the new flap over detention facilities.

“I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” he said.

However, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the Senate-House conference committee that is trying to negotiate a border deal, said that an agreement is still possible.

“It’s a negotiation. Negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through. It’s give and take, it’s compromise, it’s the way government is supposed to work. We’ve got good people on this conference committee,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” during a joint appearance with Shelby.

“The bottom line is that we’ve got people who aren’t bomb-throwers, they’re people who know how to work together and get a deal,” he added. “I’m not positive that we’ll end up with a deal but with this group of people, and the folks in the House, I think we end up with something that deals with detention beds, with barriers, with technology, with the challenges we have at the southern border, in a common sense way.”

Tester said he is “very hopeful” the negotiators can come to an agreement.

Asked why Democrats want to limit the number of detention beds, Tester said the question of how to set up detention facilities is subsidiary to the bigger dispute over how much money to allocate for border barriers.

Negotiators had set a goal of completing a deal by Monday after last week expressing optimism they could wrap up their work before the weekend.

Now it appears the back-and-forth discussions could stretch well into the coming week.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned that parts of the government may shut down again if the president and Congress fail to reach a deal.

On “Fox News Sunday,” he said “a government shutdown is technically still on the table” and on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he said “you absolutely cannot” rule out another partial shutdown if a deal fails to materialize by Friday.

Funding for 25 percent of government is due to expire on Feb. 15.

Mulvaney blamed Democrats for constantly shifting their position on how much they’re willing to spend on border fending.

“I’ve heard that there may be a deal with as much as $2.1 [billion] or $2.5 billion for a, for a border fence, then I hear there may be $0 or as little as $800 million for the border fence. There’s one Democrat who apparently wants to not only reduce the spending this year, but go back and take money away from previous years that hasn’t been spent yet,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

Mulvaney vowed that Trump will build the wall one way or another, and will likely pull from several pots of funding to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise.

On “Fox News Sunday,” he said that the president will take whatever money Congress agrees to allocate for border barriers, which is likely to be an amount between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, and supplement that by reprograming other federal funds.

“We’ll take as much money as you can give us and then we’ll go off and find the money someplace else, legally, in order to secure that southern barrier, but this is going to get built with or without Congress,” he said.

— Updated 12:48 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Jon Tester Mick Mulvaney Richard Shelby Sunday shows

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