The Latest: Lawmakers open talks on border security
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump, Congress and border security (all times local):
House-Senate bargainers trying to craft a border security compromise have opened their first formal meeting. But Wednesday’s session is unlikely to produce anything beyond lawmakers’ opening statements.
The biggest obstacle is President Donald Trump’s demand that Congress provide taxpayer money to build parts of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats have rejected that, but expressed a willingness to finance some border security improvements. The question is whether they can find middle ground.
Trump sparked a record 35-day partial federal shutdown last month when Democrats refused to provide $5.7 billion for the wall.
Trump surrendered and agreed to reopen government until Feb. 15.
If there’s no deal by then, agencies will run out of money. It’s unclear what Trump would do, but there is virtually no congressional support for another shutdown.
President Donald Trump is insisting that congressional negotiators working on a compromise border security deal include money for his proposed wall between Mexico and the southern U.S. border.
Trump tweeted that if the negotiators, scheduled to hold their first meeting Wednesday, aren’t “discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!”
Trump’s insistence on a wall led to an impasse with Democrats that resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown. On Friday, Trump agreed to a temporary deal reopening the government while negotiators work toward a longer-term border security deal.
Democrats have been adamant against a wall. In recent days, Trump has appeared to retreat from using the word. On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, suggested that “barrier” was “the same thing” as a wall.
Negotiators are facing a Feb. 15 deadline to reach a compromise.
Capitol Hill negotiators are hopeful of an agreement as they officially kick off talks on a homeland security spending bill that has been trapped in a stalemate over President Donald Trump’s long-stalled border wall.
The impasse led to the nation’s longest government shutdown.
Left on their own, the seasoned House and Senate lawmakers say they could easily reach a border security deal as they have for two years in a row. But whether Trump would sign it is another matter.
Trump has grown impatient, and his demands on his U.S.-Mexico border wall are insistent even though Democrats took back the House. Democrats remain united against Trump’s vision for a massive wall project, yet some are signaling a willingness to deal in the wake of the 35-day partial government shutdown.