House and Senate negotiators are planning to work through the weekend to reach a border security deal that would clear the way for a final FY19 spending package.
The conferees held a closed-door briefing on Wednesday with Customs and Border Protection officials as well as Carla Provost, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol. According to the White House, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) briefer was not allowed in to the briefing room. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/washington-times-ice-shut-border-talks-warns-democrats-plans-free-thousands-criminals/)
Details on how much funding and what type of construction would be allowed as barriers along the border are still being negotiated.
A disaster supplemental may be included in the final deal. Earlier this year, the House passed a $14.2B aid package for victims of hurricanes, wildfires, typhoons and other recent natural disasters. Senate Republicans introduced their own $12.8B package, but it hasn’t been considered on the Senate floor.
The conferees’ goal is to produce legislative text on Monday. They have been told to stay in town this weekend to be able to sign a conference report. Some members of the conference committee – Reps. Cuellar (D-TX), Fleischmann (R-TN), and Graves (R-GA) – are among those in a bipartisan group heading to Camp David this evening to discuss the 2019 legislative agenda with Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
The question is whether or not President Trump will sign what the conferees produce. Democratic leaders have expressed concerns about this pointing to previous reversals by the President including his most recent refusal to sign a six-week stopgap in December, which led to the 35-day partial government shutdown. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dismissed those concerns saying that the President would sign it if there is a deal and there are enough bipartisan votes for it to pass. And Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) met with the President this week. He said that the President urged him to get a deal done, and that he thinks the President would sign a final bill.
Congress must pass a final spending package or another continuing resolution by February 15 in order to avoid another shutdown.