SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Another partial government shutdown will take effect if lawmakers fail to come to an agreement on Monday.
While there are reports of an agreement to build some border barriers, the amount of funding for those barriers is unsettled and Democrats are demanding that more people caught crossing the border illegally be released from custody pending resolution of their claims.
Even if there is a deal on Monday, the President may still declare a national emergency or use other executive powers to secure additional funding for border security.
While the official deadline to reach an agreement is Friday, February 15, new rules that govern the House of Representatives mean that any deal must be done on Monday, according to East Bay Congressman Mark DeSauliner (D-CA).
“By our timeline, we have to have a deal by Monday,” he told KPIX. “They have to agree by Monday in order to meet the 72 hour-rule that we just instituted…so the public can see it.”
At issue is a package of funding for border security, including a wall that the President described in his recent State of the Union speech.
“This is a smart, strategic, see through steel barrier not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by the border agents as having the greatest need.”
DeSauliner says the agreement will include funding for such structures. “From what I understand, there will be some fencing; there will be barriers.”
While the President has demanded $5.7 billion dollars for a wall/barriers, that amount does not appear to be on the table. The President’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, told Chris Wallace at Fox News Sunday that he’s heard numbers ranging from $800 million to $2.6 billion.
Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) is the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and says he can work with that. “If that number is less than 5.7 billion, certainly everyone should be willing to compromise, I know I am,” Meadows told Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan.
But if the final deal includes less funding than the President requested, Mulvaney said the President may declare a National Emergency or use other means to pay for border security.
“The President is going to build the wall,” Mulvaney told Wallace. “Our attitude is: we’ll take as much money as you can give us, and then we will go off and find the money someplace else, legally, in order to secure that Southern border.”
Mulvaney added that the President can “repurpose” funds for the border without declaring a national emergency.
While Mulvaney did not specify which authority the President might use, according to a recent study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, even without declaring a national emergency, (1) the Secretary of Defense can spend up to $50 million dollars on a “military construction project” (10 U.S.C.A. 2308) and/or (2) the Department of Defense can build “roads and fences” in “drug smuggling corridors.” (10 U.S.C.A 284). Of course, invocation of either provision would likely be challenged in court.
In the event both sides can agree on the amount of funding for barriers, there is another serious sticking point: the number of beds available to detain people caught crossing the border illegally.
The Trump administration has worked to detain more people while they await hearings before an immigration judge, but Democrats want fewer people detained.
Meadows explained the Democrats’ position to Brennan, “What they’re talking about is: those who come across the border illegally, cutting down on the number of beds, which would actually force them being released into the United States. It’s more of an open border policy that some Democrats have supported in the past and I know that’s not going to be supported by this administration.”
With all these issues at play, lawmakers will have to work very hard in the next 24 hours to avoid another shutdown. Still, DeSauliner says there’s a good chance there will be an agreement.
“I’m not a gambler but I would say 70, 80, 90 percent. I’d say 90 percent. But the wild card is the President of the United States.”
After all, “It would be completely madness for anyone to shut down the government again.“