Don’t Count a Border Deal Out Yet

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While several lawmakers involved in securing a border security deal said on Sunday that negotiations had stalled, the current dispute does not necessarily curtail the possibility of an agreement.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that Democrats and Republicans were at an impasse over the number of detention beds for people detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials. Republicans have resisted Democratic demands to limit the number of beds available to the agency.

“The Border Committee Democrats are behaving, all of a sudden, irrationally,” President Trump tweeted Sunday. “Not only are they unwilling to give dollars for the obviously needed Wall (they overrode recommendations of Border Patrol experts), but they don’t even want to take muderers into custody! What’s going on?”

On Friday, officials in both parties working on reaching a deal were decidedly optimistic about the progress the committee was making. They had hoped to release an agreement by Monday to allow for the legislation to easily work its way through Congress before the government runs out of funding at the end of Feb. 15. Lawmakers said Sunday that they’re unlikely to meet that self-imposed deadline because of the detention bed issue.

Rather than a potentially show-stopping obstacle, though, Republicans may be publicly throwing cold water on the talks to signal their resistance and move Democrats off their position on detention beds.

“We’ve got to get fluid again, we’ve got to start movement,” Mr. Shelby said on Sunday of the negotiations.

The same political dynamics govern the negotiations as they did on Friday. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that a national emergency declaration or another shutdown are still possible, but Republicans and Democrats each have political incentives to avoid both of those options and produce a deal.

“Nobody wants a shutdown. Nobody wants the president to use some kind of emergency powers,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), a member of the committee involved in the talks, on “Fox News Sunday.” “Every negotiation, almost every negotiation out there, hits bumps in the road. There are bumps in the road.”

Write to Andrew Duehren at

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