Friday August 14th, 2020 3:49AM

Budding deal would give Trump fraction of desired wall money

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional bargainers traded offers Friday and worked toward a border security agreement that would give President Donald Trump a fraction of the money he's demanded for his proposed southern border wall and avert a fresh federal shutdown next weekend.

Participants said they expect the pact 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, a figure that was in a bipartisan Senate bill last year, they said.

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

Coupled with a widespread expectation that the accord 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. It would also avert another partial federal shutdown, a Trump threat that has become toothless because of solid opposition from GOP lawmakers burned by the record 35-day closure that Trump initiated in December.

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 one 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.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., appeared to gesture at that Thursday, saying an accord could be "a good down payment." Graham, who is close to Trump, said that to make up the difference, "there are other ways to do it, and I expect the president to go it alone in some fashion."

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.

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.

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.

Meadows' assessment of Trump's view clashed with one expressed Thursday by Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chief GOP bargainer.

He described the emerging deal to Trump in the Oval Office and told reporters the session was "the most positive meeting I've had in a long time." Shelby said that if the final agreement followed the outline currently under discussion, he believed Trump "would sign it."

Besides a shutdown, Trump has threatened to bypass Congress and divert taxpayer money to wall construction by declaring a national emergency at the border.

Lawmakers of both parties oppose that move. It would be certain to produce lawsuits that could block the money. It would also spark likely votes by Congress to block him. Trump could veto it, but the veto would still inflict political damage.


AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
NY gov raps Amazon critics amid report company's rethinking
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning about what he calls "political pandering" to critics of Amazon's proposed secondary headquarters amid a report that the company is reconsidering its planned New York City headquarters.
9:09PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Snowbound California guests freed after 5 days at lodge
More than 120 visitors and staff who were snowbound in a Sierra Nevada resort for five days have been freed
8:53PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Virginia lieutenant governor embattled by new sex allegation
Virginia's state government seems to be coming unglued
8:48PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Virginia gov says he won't quit; new allegation hits deputy
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has told top staff that he is not going to resign over a racist photo as another sexual assault accusation was leveled at his lieutenant governor, who would succeed him if he stepped down
7:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
Booker urges activists, leaders to heed social justice call
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is taking his call for social justice to Iowa, where he is visiting with African-American leaders
7:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
O'Rourke to lead anti-wall march during Trump Texas rally
Beto O'Rourke will lead a march though his hometown of El Paso, Texas, to protest a border wall at the same time President Donald Trump will be holding a rally there to promote it
7:10PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Budding deal would give Trump fraction of desired wall money
Congressional bargainers work toward a border security compromise giving Trump fraction of wall money he wants
5:12PM ( 4 hours ago )
Funeral, memorial planned for longtime Rep. John Dingell
A funeral and a public memorial will be held next week to honor former Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history
4:42PM ( 4 hours ago )
Official: Virginia governor says he won't resign over photo
A senior official in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's administration says the governor has told his top staff that he does not plan to resign over a racist photo despite intense pressure to step down
4:35PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
US delays oil-and-gas lease sale near sacred tribal land
U.S. land managers no longer plan to move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, saying they need to gather more information before the put parcels up for bidding
7:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
Janelle Monae applauds jump in Grammy nominations for women
Janelle Monae hosted a pre-Grammy brunch Friday to celebrate her Grammy nominations, including a bid for album of the year for her groundbreaking album, "Dirty Computer."
6:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
Janelle Monae celebrates jump in women Grammy nominees
Janelle Monae hosted a pre-Grammy brunch Friday to celebrate her Grammy nominations, including a bid for album of the year for her groundbreaking album, "Dirty Computer."
6:48PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Virginia lieutenant governor embattled by new sex allegation
Virginia's state government seems to be coming unglued
8:48PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Trump says summit with North Korea's Kim will be in Hanoi
President Donald Trump is filling in the details on his planned Vietnam summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un: He says the summit will take place in Hanoi
8:31PM ( 43 minutes ago )
2nd woman accuses Virginia official of sexual assault
The latest accusation against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax triggers calls for his resignation
8:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
'Big Little Lies' adds superfan Meryl Streep in new season
Meryl Streep says she was addicted to "Big Little Lies" and welcomed the chance to be part of its second season
8:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
Likely deal would give Trump fraction of desired wall money
Congressional bargainers work toward border security compromise amid indications Trump will accept fraction of money he wants for border barriers
8:04PM ( 1 hour ago )