At 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, U.S. Republican Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, told reporters that an “agreement in principle” has been reached to avoid another government shutdown.
Senator Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. In that role he was one of the four congressional negotiators working on border security funding. The ranking member of the Appropriations Committee is U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) who was also one of the congressional negotiators.
“Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together,” Shelby said after stepping out of a meeting with fellow congressional negotiators.
Sen. Leahy said that neither side got all of what they had wanted; but that the compromise was best for the United States.
Shelby did not give an outline of the deal.
President Donald J. Trump (R) has been demanding that Congress provide him with $5.7 billion of funding to build a border wall on the U.S./Mexico border.
The plan has not been finalized yet and it has not been officially released. That is expected late Tuesday or at some point on Wednesday. That said, Fox News claims that there source is reporting that the deal is for $1.375 billion to build or renovate just 55 miles of border wall on the Texas/Mexico border.
The plan also reportedly includes a Democratic demanded of a 17 percent reduction in the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds. ICE currently has 49,000 beds. Shelby and the GOP congressional negotiators have agreed to the request on the proviso that the President be given flexible funding to increase detention beds if there is a sudden spike in illegal border crossings or some other emergency. The American Sheriffs Association had released a statement opposing any reduction in the number of ICE beds. The Sheriffs met with the President in Washington on Monday morning to stress the importance of ICE detentions and border enforcement.
A key to reaching a deal is that the Democrats have dropped a demand that ICE arrests in the interior of the country be capped at just 16,000 a year.
Fox News is reporting that of the 159,000 illegal immigrants detained by ICE last year, 69 percent had a prior criminal record.
North Caroline Congressman Mark Meadows (R) told Fox News that no conservative would vote for the plan.
“Walls save lives,” President Trump said at a Trump rally in El Paso, Texas. “We probably have some good news; but who knows?”
It is not known at this time whether the President will support the deal or not.
When asked if the President would sign this deal, Sen. Shelby said, “We think so. We hope so.”
Any deal will have to be passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President by midnight on Friday to avoid another partial government shutdown. The government shutdown for 35 days from December 21 to January 25 before both sides agreed to open it back up to allow the 800,000 affected government workers to be paid and operations to return to normal while the two side negotiated a more permanent settlement.
This debate is likely not to go away any time soon.
Pres. Trump told the crowd, “Just to let you know, we are building the wall anyway.”
Original reporting by Reuters’ Richard Cowan and Fox News contributed to this report.)