WASHINGTON — With a Friday deadline looming to avoid another partial federal government shutdown, Congressional Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement, at least in principle, over border security.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, says he’s hopeful all parties, including President Trump, will be able to agree to the compromise. “Funding the government and securing our border should not be mutually exclusive,” Grassley says. “Shutting down the government is no way to govern. It costs money to shut government down and it costs money to open it back up.”
The partial shutdown that started in late December ran a record 35 days and furloughed 800,000 federal workers and forced some to work without pay. Grassley says he’s putting his trust in the conference committee members that the compromise they’ve created will be acceptable and bipartisan.
“I’m optimistic that Congress can still get this done,” Grassley says. “It’s in nobody’s interest to shirk the fundamental responsibilities of Congress. I’m also supporting legislation to put an end to government shutdowns once and for all.”
Grassley says no official details are being released about the compromise, though reports indicate it includes $1.3 billion to put up 55 miles of fencing at the border, a long way from the $5.7 billion and 2,000 miles of wall the president wanted. With seven months remaining in the fiscal year, Grassley says $1.3 billion is likely all the government can afford to spend on a fence.
“Building and putting it in strategic places where it’s really needed to make more efficient use of border patrol where you don’t have fence is a compromise that the president ought to be able to live with,” Grassley says.
Reports say the agreement would pay for a fence made of metal slats, not the concrete wall the president was pushing. It would also cut the number of beds in border detention centers from around 50,000 to around 40,000. Grassley says firm details about the proposal will be out soon.