President Donald Trump.(AP file photo)
President Donald Trump.(AP file photo)

US shutdown likely averted, Trump holds the key

Bipartisan congressional negotiators announced that they had reached an “agreement in principal” to avoid another round of government shutdown.
Hindustan Times, Washington | By Yashwant Raj
UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2019 09:41 PM IST

Bipartisan congressional negotiators announced Monday they had reached an “agreement in principal” to avoid another round of government shutdown that does not allocate much of the money President Donald Trump has sought for was border wall that he told his supporters at a rally “has to be built”.

There had been no reaction from the president or the White House to the deal, which was dismissed by some conservatives as a “garbage compromise” and a “bad deal on immigration”.

It was not certain if the president would sign it, chiefly because it comes nowhere near the money he has sought for the wall along the southern border to check illegal immigration. The agreement sets aside $1.375 billion for a 55-mile long fence against the $5.7 billion he has sought for a 200-mile wall, or any kind of a physical barrier. As a part of the agreement, Democrats dropped their demand to limit immigration agencies’s detention facilities.

The deal was announced in Washington DC just minutes before the president took the stage at a rally in El Paso, a Texas city bordering Mexico. He told the supporters he had been briefed on the agreement and went on to state, “Just so you know — we’re building the wall anyway.”

Banners behind him said, “Finish the wall”.

Also read | Donald Trump signs deal ending longest US government shutdown

The president could still declare a national emergency and find the money in budgetary allocations of other government agencies. But that option is not popular even with Republicans and Democrats are likely to challenge it in courts.

The in-principle agreement needs to be put in a legislation for passage by both chambers of US congress before landing on the president’s desk for his signature and enactment before the end of the day Friday. Else, portions of the federal government that reopened January-end after 35 days, will be shut down again.

Senator Richard Shelby, the lead Republican negotiator, told reporters late Monday evening that an “agreement in principle” had been reached and that “Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together.”

Response from some conservatives was swift and brutal. Sean Hannity, a Fox News anchor and confidant of the president, said on air, “Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain.”

Jim Jordan, a leading member of an ultra-conservative group of House Republicans, wrote on Twitter: “While the President was giving a great speech in El Paso, Congress was putting together a bad deal on immigration.”

President Trump pays attention to his wall-hawks and abandoned an agreement reached with Democrats last year after pushback from them. Though he also punished one of them, the most acerbically vocal of them — Ann Coulter, by unfollowing her on Twitter. Just to let her know.

Uncertainty remains thus if he will sign the agreement, details of which he ha now known for hours. The lead Democratic negotiator Nita Lowey said on CNN Tuesday, “This is a compromise. No one got everything they wanted, but it does secure the border, it does represent our values.”

And she was “cautiously optimistic” it will go through.

Also read | Another shutdown looms as US border security talks break down

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