Likely Deal Would Give Trump Fraction of Desired Wall Money - NBC Chicago
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Likely Deal Would Give Trump Fraction of Desired Wall Money

An agreement would avert a new partial federal shutdown next weekend

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Likely Deal Would Give Trump Fraction of Desired Wall Money
    AP
    Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., center, speaks as he is joined by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., far left, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the bipartisan group bargainers working to craft a border security compromise in hope of avoiding another government shutdown, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., right, after a briefing with officials about the US-Mexico border, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

    Congressional bargainers are working toward a border security deal amid indications that the White House is preparing to accept a bipartisan agreement that would give President Donald Trump a fraction of the money he's demanded for his proposed southern border wall.

    Participants said they expect money for physical barriers to end up well below the $5.7 billion that Trump has sought to begin construction of the wall, which has attained iconic significance for him and his conservative supporters. Underscoring the clout he's lost during a battle that's dominated the opening weeks of divided government, the amount seems sure to fall much closer to $1.6 billion, the participants said, a figure that was in a bipartisan Senate bill last year.

    "That's what we're working toward," said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., one bargainer.

    An agreement would also avert a new partial federal shutdown next weekend. Trump has warned he might trigger a new closure of agencies if he doesn't get his way, but that threat has become toothless because of solid opposition from GOP lawmakers burned by the record 35-day closure that he initiated in December.

    A Timeline of Mueller’s Russia Investigation

    [NATL] A Timeline of Mueller’s Russia Investigation

    On May 17, 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. He secured the conviction of one Trump associate, guilty pleas from several others and the indictment of Russians who allegedly interfered in the 2016 election.

    (Published Friday, March 22, 2019)

    One White House aide said Trump was expected to back whatever compromise emerges and acknowledged there is no will among congressional Republicans for another shutdown. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

    Coupled with a widespread expectation that the agreement would not use the term "wall," the pact would represent a significant retreat for Trump, for whom "Build the wall!" has been a battle cry since his presidential campaign.

    Democrats seemed to draw a firm line on spending.

    "Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a border security compromise not be overly reliant on physical barriers," said Evan Hollander, spokesman for Democrats who control the House Appropriations Committee. "We will not agree to $2 billion in funding for barriers."

    In another signal that Trump was reluctantly preparing to give ground, the White House has been considering accepting the deal but also using executive action to secure additional barrier funding without lawmakers' approval. That plan was described by two people familiar with White House thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Depending on what Trump does, such an action could spark lawsuits or congressional votes of disapproval.

    Trump supporters have said there are other executive powers Trump could use to divert money from the budget to wall construction, though it was unclear if they would face challenges in Congress or the courts. One provision of the law lets the Defense Department provide support for counter-drug activities.

    Special Counsel Mueller Wraps Up Russia Probe

    [NATL] Special Counsel Mueller Wraps Up Russia Probe

    Special counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation into Russian election meddling, officials said Friday. Attorney General William Barr will soon report to Congress on Mueller's findings

    (Published Friday, March 22, 2019)

    Besides the dollar figure, talks were focusing on the type and location of barriers, participants said. Also in play were the number of beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could have for detained migrants and the amount of aid included for natural disaster relief.

    Money for high-tech surveillance equipment and more personnel was also expected to be included.

    No one ruled out last-minute problems, especially with Trump's penchant for head-snapping turnabouts. But the momentum was clearly toward clinching an agreement that Congress could pass by next Friday. The next day, many government agencies would run out of money and have to close again without a deal.

    Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said he spoke Thursday night to Trump, who he said was in "wait and see" mode. Meadows said he expects an agreement to provide an amount closer to $1.6 billion.

    "I'm not optimistic it'll be something the president can support," Meadows said.

    A conservative House GOP aide said Freedom Caucus members wanted at least $2 billion for barriers and no restrictions on new construction, land acquisition or new types of barriers that could be built.

    Trump Escalates Criticism Against Sen. McCain, 7 Months After His Death

    [NATL] Trump Escalates Criticism Against Sen. McCain, 7 Months After His Death

    President Donald Trump again lashed out against the late Arizona senator saying, “’I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.” The comments came after he tweeted more scorn over the weekend. McCain’s daughter Meghan said that Trump had a “pathetic life” and “will never be a great man.”

    (Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019)

    The aide also said the agreement need not contain the term "wall," a word that Trump has lately alternated between embracing and abandoning. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private talks.

    If there is a bipartisan deal, there would likely be enough votes to pass it without the most conservative Republicans or the most liberal Democrats.