U.S. congressional negotiators on Monday reached a tentative deal to try to avert another partial government shutdown on Saturday, but congressional aides said it did not contain the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump wants for a border wall.
“We reached an agreement in principle” on funding border security programs through Sept. 30, Republican Senator Richard Shelby told reporters.
“Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together,” Shelby said. Neither he nor three other senior lawmakers flanking him provided any details of the tentative pact.
But it was far from clear if the Republican president would embrace the agreement. His December demand for $5.7 billion this year to help pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border – rejected by congressional Democrats – triggered a 35-day partial government shutdown that ended last month without him getting wall funding.
A congressional aide, who asked not to be identified, said the outline of the deal included $1.37 billion for erecting new fencing along the southern border. That is about the same amount Congress allocated last year and far below what Trump has demanded.
The aide said none of the money would be for a “wall,” which Trump has been touting since he launched his campaign for president in 2016. Democrats say the wall would be costly and ineffective.
Two other congressional sources said only currently deployed designs could be used for constructing 55 miles (90 km) of additional barriers. Those designs, which include “steel bollard” fencing, have been in use since before Trump became president.
Shortly after the deal was reached in the U.S. Capitol, Trump held a rally in the border city of El Paso, Texas, to argue for the wall he says can protect Americans from violent criminals, drugs and a “tremendous onslaught” of migrant caravans.