Talks to avoid further US government shutdown stall
Democrats and Republicans divided over immigration policy and border wall
Tweeting from the White House on Sunday, President Donald Trump claimed Democrats were not being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Talks to avoid a US government shutdown later this week faltered over the weekend, amid renewed tensions over immigration policy. Senior Democrats and Republicans who were appointed to a committee tasked with funding a bipartisan solution to the funding challenge, indicated on Sunday that negotiations had stalled.
While President Donald Trump’s request for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall continues to divide legislators, there were also tensions over Democrats’ demands for a limit on the number of undocumented immigrants that could be detained by US immigration authorities at the border, according to reports.
The US government is heading for another government shutdown next Friday if new funding legislation is not agreed. It follows a 35-day shutdown – the longest in history – which ended last month after Mr Trump agreed to sign a set of Bills without funding for his border wall.
The breakdown of the talks over the weekend increased the likelihood that Mr Trump may declare a national emergency – a procedure which would allow him to bypass Congress and tap department of defence funding directly.
I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
But such a move would face fierce resistance from Democrats and some Republicans, concerned about an overreach in presidential power. It would almost certainly face legal challenges in the courts.
While legislators could still reach agreement, they would need to finalise a deal by Monday evening to ensure that legislation can be prepared and voted on before the deadline of midnight on Friday. The chair of the Senate appropriations committee, Richard Shelby, told Fox News on Sunday that there was a “50-50” chance of a deal being agreed.
Tweeting from the White House on Sunday, Mr Trump claimed that Democrats on the negotiating committee were not being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!,” he wrote, apparently referring to Democrats’ demands for limits on the number of immigrants being detained by immigration and customs officials.
The latest sign of strain in the negotiations unfolded as Mr Trump prepared to travel to El Paso, Texas, a city on the Mexican border, for a 2020 presidential campaign rally on Monday evening. Former senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2020 and hails from El Paso, will hold a rival demonstration on Monday to protest against Mr Trump’s policies.
The US president has repeatedly claimed that crime in El Paso plummeted after the construction of a border wall near the city.
Meanwhile, another candidate for the 2020 election launched their campaign over the weekend. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has faced criticism for her claims to Native American heritage, officially launched her campaign in Massachusetts on Saturday pledging to fight for “big structural change”.
“The man in the White House is not the cause of what is broken. He is just the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America,” the 69-year-old Democrat told the assembled crowd at the site of a former mill.