We think so, we hope so.
That’s what Sen. Richard Shelby told reporters on Monday evening after senior congressional negotiators apparently struck a bipartisan deal on border security aimed at averting another government shutdown.
The deal, described as an “agreement in principle”, would fund the government through the fall. Ostensibly, this would also put to rest what, just 24 hours ago, appeared to be intractable disagreements over immigration.
When asked specifically about Trump’s border barrier and also about the newly-contentious “detention beds” issue which brought talks to a standstill over the weekend and triggered a presidential Twitter tantrum, Shelby said this:
We got an agreement in all of it.
He did not go into details, but Democrats look to have given up on their call for a cap on the beds.
The bill is currently being drafted, and once that process is finished (perhaps late tomorrow), the details will be made public. Obviously, all of the key information will leak sooner rather than later. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey said staff are busy working out the specifics.
It’s worth noting that over the weekend, lawmakers suggested that no more than $2 billion had been allocated for a border barrier. The deal reportedly calls for just $1.375 billion for barriers (including more than 50 miles of new bollard fencing).
Trump made it abundantly clear on Twitter that he was not inclined to accept a number that far removed from the $5.7 billion figure he has clung to for months. It now seems likely that the White House may accept a smaller sum and then try to shuffle money around and otherwise divert funds from other projects to bridge the gap.
Earlier Monday, Sen. Patrick Leahy expressed optimism that a deal was close, noting that Democrats were”working in good faith.” “I believe the GOP are too,” he added.
Trump was curt when asked whether another shutdown was imminent. “That’s up to the Democrats”, he said.
News of the breakthrough came just as Trump was set to hold a rally in El Paso, where he’ll make a vociferous case for adopting a hardline stance on immigration.
As an aside, his claims about El Paso being safer with a wall are questionable, at best. Violent crime was falling in El Paso for more than a decade before the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a fence in 2008. A quick look at a chart reveals that violent crime actually ticked higher in and around the construction of the barrier.
As The New York Times notes, “El Paso has long been one of the safer cities of its size in the United States — a trend that local law enforcement officials attribute to the residents and community policing, not to the border fence.”
Of course this isn’t (and has never been) about facts. It’s about fearmongering and playing off of people’s xenophobia and deep-seated prejudices.
In any case, the good news is, lawmakers appear to have the makings of a deal that will avert another shutdown.
The only question is whether Trump will sign it.