US Congress Voting on Border Security Bill to Avert Shutdown
U.S. lawmakers are set to vote Thursday on a funding deal to avert another government shutdown, while providing money for barrier construction and other security measures at the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Donald Trump said he was reviewing the 1,159-page piece of legislation with his advisers at the White House. He has not publicly said he will sign the measure, but he also has noted he does not want another partial government shutdown after a record 35-day closure was ended last month.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted the Senate would approve the legislation that would provide funding for several major U.S. agencies through September and include $1.375 billion for new barriers along the southern U.S. border — about a quarter of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for a wall.
The House of Representatives also is expected to approve the legislation before sending it to Trump, whose signature is needed for it to become law.
Members of Congress and their staff worked late Wednesday to finalize the legislation crafted by a bipartisan committee tasked with finding a border security agreement. Trump said this week he was "not happy" with the compromise reached by the panel, but he has suggested he might sign the deal to avoid another shutdown.
Then, Trump says, he would look to tap other government funds without congressional authorization to build more of the wall, his signature 2016 campaign pledge during his successful run for the White House. Such an action, however, would invite a legal challenge from opposition Democrats and other groups.
The legislation calls for barriers along about 90 kilometers of the 3,200-kilometer border. It also includes technology upgrades for screening at border entry points, more customs officers and humanitarian aid.
"As with all bipartisan agreements, it's a product of compromise," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said. "Each side gave a little, each side got a little."
Congress must pass and Trump must sign the bill before midnight Friday or funding runs out for about a quarter of the U.S. government. Ahead of the last shutdown, Trump was expected to sign a short-term funding measure to keep the government open while border security negotiations continued, but he changed his mind.
"The president must not repeat his mistakes of the recent past. President Trump, sign this bill," Schumer said.
Trump said Wednesday he had not yet made his decision.
"We'll be looking for land mines [in the bill]," Trump told reporters.
The president, however, indicated he was pleased with preliminary border security figures in the deal, saying "total funding is almost up to $23 billion, it's about 8 percent higher."
He said he does not want to see another shutdown, and reiterated that his administration is looking at other ways to find funding to complete a border wall.
Trump told a conference of law enforcement officials that "the wall is very, very on its way."
"As we review the new proposal from Congress, I can promise you this, I will never waiver from my sacred duty to defend this nation and its people," he said.
Under Trump, Congress has not authorized any funding for a wall. But wall repairs and replacements for deteriorating sections along the border have been ongoing.