Top appropriators reach ‘agreement in principle’ on funding border security, rest of government

Agreement could avoid government shutdown

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee walks across the Capitol from the House side for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top four congressional appropriators said Monday they had reached an “agreement in principle” that would fund the Department of Homeland Security and the rest of the federal government through the end of the fiscal year and could avoid a government shutdown if President Donald Trump signs off on it. 

The agreement is now being drafted into legislative text that the House and Senate hope to advance before Friday’s government funding deadline, the appropriators said.

They declined to provide details, but sources familiar with the agreement said it would provide $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southern border and would reduce the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds for undocumented immigrants apprehended in the country by 17.4 percent. The agreement does not include a cap on detention beds used for interior enforcement that Democrats proposed and led to a breakdown in the negotiations over the weekend.

“We’ve had a good evening. We reached an agreement in principle between us on the Homeland Security and the other six bills. Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby told reporters late Monday. 

The Alabama Republican was speaking alongside the other three Appropriations committee leaders after their third in a series of Monday afternoon and evening meetings to negotiate the final details.

Shelby said the agreement encompasses all seven appropriations bills that have yet to be signed into law but not disaster relief funding.

“We didn’t do that. We’ll do that separately,” he said.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said they hoped to have legislative text of the agreement by Wednesday.

“Some people may think it’s a great deal. Some people may come and attack it. But we did it together,” she said.

Lowey said she has talked to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the agreement, and she believes the California Democrat will support it.

Shelby and Lowey led the discussions with their respective minority counterparts Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas.

Granger said that whether a one- or two-day continuing resolution will be needed to provide time for the agreement to be drafted will be up to leadership.

The four appropriators announced the agreement together ahead of Trump’s scheduled Monday night appearance at a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas.

Shelby said he thinks the White House will support the agreement.

"We haven’t put all the particulars together yet, but we believe [based on] our dealings with [Trump] in the last the few days … they will support this," he said.

Watch: McConnell accuses Democrats of inserting ‘poison pill’ into border security talks

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