Trump declares national emergency to fund the wall
White House officials have mulled one additional idea in recent days, depending on what congressional negotiators came up with: Taking the deal that the committee comes to -- depending on what's in it -- but also using other federal funds to build additional barriers.
A White House official says they are keeping their options open right now, including Trump using his executive powers to reallocate federal funds from elsewhere for the wall, but are looking at the agreement now.
As Mick Mulvaney noted on NBC yesterday, he has been "combing through the law" and trying to find additional funds. White House officials believe this is an option even if the president signs the deal to avoid another government shutdown.
Just hours ago they were told these talks were stalled, but that wasn’t a huge concern to WH officials, who for days have been continuing discussions about declaring a national emergency.
The details are slowly trickling out -- but here's what we hear has been agreed to:
- $1.375 billion for physical barriers (bollard fencing)
- 40,520 level for overall ICE beds (down from current 49,057 level)
All four lead negotiators -- Senators Shelby and Leahy, Reps. Lowey and Granger -- emerged to announce the agreement.
The four declined to get into details on how the agreement was struck, but when asked whether it included barrier funding and a resolution to the detention bed issue, Shelby says: “we got an agreement on all of it.”
Does the White House support the agreement?
Shelby: “We think so. We hope so.”
The staff will now work on drafting the agreement into actual legislation, at which point they will release the details.
The deal includes all seven outstanding appropriations measures. Disaster aid will not be included in the deal and will be handled separately.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
President Trump alluded to a standoff over ICE detention beds on Monday, alleging Democrats were resisting efforts to keep criminal undocumented immigrations in custody.
"The Democrats want them to go into our country. That's why they don't want to give us what we call the beds. It's much more complicated than beds. But we call them the beds," Trump said during a meet-and-greet with sheriffs at the White House.
"We need a wall. All the other things are nice to have. But without a wall it’s not going to work," Trump said later, saying technology like drones wouldn't be sufficient in securing the border.
"It doesn’t work without the wall. And we need a wall. We can call it anything. We can call it barriers, whatever they want."
Trump said Democrats were only digging in in their resistance to border security funding in their demands on the detention beds.
"Now it turns out not only don't they want to give us money for the wall, they don’t want to give us space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers," he said.
Asked Monday whether there would be another government shutdown at the end of this week, President Trump shifted responsibility to the Democrats.
"That’s up to the Democrats," Trump replied before leaving for a campaign rally in Texas.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just left the Senate floor after bluntly blaming House Democrats for the stalled talks.
While on the floor, McConnell had railed about the “poison pill” demand from Democrats over limits on ICE detention beds, accusing them of risking a second government shutdown.
"As recently as a few days ago, our government funding discussions seemed to be in a pretty good place," McConnell said, calling the proposed detention bed cap "a get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals."
"It's hard to believe a group of House Democrats see kneecapping American law enforcement as a higher priority than keeping the government open. But it would be even harder to believe that leading Democrats would be open to this craziness, and would let this last-minute poison pill scuttle the entire appropriations process," McConnell said.
On his way out, McConnell declined to answer questions on the likelihood of another government shutdown and questions on whether he was opposed to a continuing resolution.
President Trump is expected to hold a meeting in the Oval Office this afternoon, according to an administration official, to talk wall funding and discuss a response to Democrats now demanding a limit on the detention of illegal immigrants, which CNN’s Capitol Hill team has reported has stalled border security funding talks.
This meeting was scheduled for 1:45 p.m. ET but is being pushed back slightly because Trump's schedule is running late. Republican lawmakers are not expected to attend this meeting right now — it's just internal folks.
This is going to be a meeting that's broad in scope. It's not surprising because there have been meetings like this essentially every day since December. It's also not expected to last too long, since the President is headed for El Paso at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The top negotiators from each party on the conference committee are expected to meet on Monday in what could be a final push to try and overcome the current impasse reach a deal in the border security talks, according to two sources familiar with the planning.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations panels, along with their Democratic counterparts, are planning to meet just a day after the talks between the two sides completely broke down over disputes on funding for detention beds and border barriers.
Some more about the shutdown timeline: In order to get something done by the Friday deadline, House Democrats will likely have to post something Monday or Tuesday (Reminder: the chamber has a 72-hour rule).
As is always the case, Congress can move quite quickly when it wants to, but at this point there's zero agreement about a backstop or alternative plan between the two parties and chambers. Conference negotiators basically have until the end of Monday to figure something out, aides in both parties say. Then it's on to finding a Plan B (or C or D, etc., etc.).