A House-Senate committee has hammered out a stop-gap funding bill to keep the US government open past Feb. 15 in a deal that would give Donald Trump billions less for border-wall funding than he wanted.
The bill doesn’t include a cap on detention beds for undocumented immigrants in the interior of the country that Democrats were pushing for.
The measure, to be introduced in the House as early as tomorrow (Feb. 13), must also pass in the Senate before being sent to Trump for his signature. Already, pro-Trump talking heads like Fox News commentator Sean Hannity are criticizing the bill, however, and there’s no guarantee Trump will sign it into law.
Republicans better not take this “garbage compromise,” Hannity, whose views sway Trump, warned viewers last night. Ann Coulter said Trump was “afraid to fight” for border funding on Twitter.
Full details are expected to be released later today (Feb. 12). Here’s what Quartz has learned so far:
Republicans and Democrats on the appropriations committees of the House and Senate have agreed to $1.37 billion in funding for barricades on the US southern border with Mexico, less than a third of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded, congressional aides say.
The money would fund 55 miles of border barricades in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, far less than the 215 miles that Trump demanded. The bill also includes funding for other border security measures, including new technology at ports of entry to detect drugs. One Congressional Democrat who briefed reporters on Feb. 12 said the budget for border wall funding was deliberately lower than what was on offer before the shutdown, in order to try to dissuade Trump from pursuing new government shutdowns over any topic.
Over the past weekend, Democrats were demanding a cap on the number of “interior detention beds” funded for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They hoped to limit ICE to detaining 16,500 people who were captured inside the US at any one time (versus the thousands who are put in detention when they claim asylum at the border).
Under Trump, ICE has stepped up the arrest and deportation of immigrants, some who have lived undocumented in the US for years, often over minor crimes like traffic violations.
The bed cap was scrapped to get a deal, an aide explains, but overall funding for ICE’s detention beds was cut to below the current average daily level of detainees, which is about 49,000. ICE will have a budget through the end of the fiscal year for 45,274 beds, which will force the immigration authority to reduce the number of people in detention a daily basis to 40,520 to remain within budget.
The bill will be voted in the House on Feb. 14. Then, negotiators hope, it will speed through the Senate and land on Trump’s desk by the Feb. 15 deadline to avoid another government shutdown.
Will he sign it? Members of Congress, eager to avoid another government shutdown, are cautiously optimistic.
“We believe from our dealings with them and the latitude they’ve given us, they will support it,” Richard Shelby, the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair from Alabama who was leading talks for the Republicans, told reporters last night. “We certainly hope so.”
Trump said late Tuesday morning that he “not happy” about the deal, but didn’t say that he would veto it. “It’s not doing the trick but I’m adding things to it,” he said, though what that was was unclear.