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Monday February 17th, 2020 11:49AM

The Latest: Negotiators say they've agreed on border bill

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on government negotiations over border security (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Negotiators in Congress say they have reached an agreement in principle to fund the government and avoid another partial government shutdown.

The emerging agreement was announced by a group of lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill.

The talks had cratered over the weekend because of Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, but lawmakers apparently broke through that impasse Monday evening.

Now they will need the support of President Donald Trump, whose signature will be needed ahead of the deadline at midnight Friday.

If lawmakers don't act, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed for a second time this year.

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8:15 p.m.

Congressional negotiators say politically freighted talks on border security are back on track as they speed to avert a new federal shutdown this weekend.

Officials say an agreement could be in sight as early as Monday night. The talks had cratered over the weekend because of Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, but that impasse seems to be loosening.

A Friday midnight deadline is looming as negotiators strain to prevent a second partial government shutdown, for which there is virtually no support from lawmakers of either party.

If bargainers don't reach an agreement and get President Donald Trump's signature by then, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed for a second time this year.

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4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is assailing Democrats over faltering border security negotiations.

Trump spoke to reporters Monday at the White House at an event attended by local sheriffs. He says construction on a border barrier is already underway, but he says of Democrats: "We're up against people who want to allow criminals in our society."

Border security negotiations stalled over the weekend over Democratic demands to limit the number of migrants whom federal authorities can detain. The two sides also remain separated over how much to spend on Trump's border wall.

Republicans say Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions are a deal breaker, eclipsing the border wall issue for now.

Trump is holding a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night and says he's going there "to keep our country safe."

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3:55 p.m.

The top Republican negotiator for the House says talks on nettlesome border security issues are in "better shape today" and she's optimistic that negotiations can produce a deal in time to meet a deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Texas Rep. Kay Granger gave the optimistic assessment on her way into a meeting of other top negotiators that was convened after talks collapsed over the weekend over a Democratic demand to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities.

She says the battle over capping detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as demanded by top Democrats was one of those issues that "pop up" in negotiations.

She says there are several remaining outstanding issues.

The deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown is midnight Friday.

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3:50 p.m.

Ahead of a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump's campaign has issued a new video calling for a border wall.

The video posted Monday offers testimonials from residents of the city advocating for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. They say the wall is needed for public safety, arguing that El Paso's border fence has helped the city.

The video concludes with the slogan "Finish the Wall," an update on the "Build the Wall" chants that defined Trump's 2016 campaign.

Trump's Monday night rally is to take place just a few hundred yards from El Paso's border fence. Trump has repeatedly exaggerated the impact of El Paso's fencing on the city's crime rate, as well as statistics about crime committed by people who have entered the U.S. illegally.

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3:40 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Democrats to resume border security talks as Congress races to avoid another government shutdown.

McConnell complained Monday that Democrats are asking for too much from Republicans in the negotiations over President Donald Trump's demand for money to build a wall on the Mexican border, his premier campaign promise.

In exchange for some funding for border barriers, Democrats want limits on the number of immigrants whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement can detain for illegal crossings and other violations. It's a way to slow the Trump administration's aggressive deportation policies.

McConnell called the detention bed limits "absurd."

Chief budget negotiators are meeting again Monday to resume talks that sputtered over the weekend. They face Friday's deadline to fund the government or risk another partial shutdown.

___

12:30 a.m.

The White House is refusing to rule out the possibility that the federal government may shut down again.

Negotiators are clashing over whether to limit the number of migrants authorities can detain, creating a new hurdle for a border security compromise that Congress can accept.

With a Friday deadline approaching, the two sides remain separated over how much to spend on President Donald Trump's promised border wall.

Rising to the fore is a related dispute over curbing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies.

People involved in the talks say Democrats have proposed limiting the number of immigrants in the country illegally and caught inside the U.S. — not at the border — that the agency can detain.

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