Over the last month, President Donald Trump has done all he can to talk up border security spending. However, no one on Capitol Hill seems to be hearing his threats.
Law makers from both sides of the aisle have gone ahead with negotiations, despite Trumps’ public blasting of the closed-door process that hasn’t produced the border wall he promised to his voting base.
According to several lawmakers and aides, the two groups could reach a deal if Trump would just sit on the sidelines and let the negotiations play out.
Talking about the negotiations, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, said, “With all due respect to the president, I really have stopped now listening to what he says. The things that the president says [are] not helpful to the process. It’s not respectful to our efforts.”
Since the government shutdown ended, Trump has levied insults at the bipartisan committee attempting to reach a deal on border security. The president has even gone as far as hinting that he would go around Congress to build his wall.
So far, he referred to the negotiations as a “waste of time” and insists he won’t even read what the committee produces unless it includes a wall.
During this time, the President has made statements about possibly declaring a national emergency. According to Trump, this would give him the legal authority to build the border wall. “I think there's a good chance we will have to do that,” said President Trump.
Republicans on the conference committee have made public statements to show they side with Trump, accusing Democrats of sabotaging the talk by leaving funding for the border wall off the table.
Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves does not think the committee will be able to reach a deal by the government shutdown deadline, which is February 15th.
“I understand the president’s cynicism. Whatever product — if there is a product, and I’m hopeful there will be — needs to be one that the House GOP conference can embrace, and that the president can sign. Otherwise, it’s a futile effort,” said Graves.
Republicans and Democrats have expressed stress about the timeline they are forced to work under. If the committee wants to have a bill that meets the deadline, they will need to have an agreement finalized by February 8th in order for it to have enough time to go through the House and Senate.
All of the 17 Republicans and Democrats on the committee agree on a number of core issues, such as beefing up scanning technology at ports of entry and hiring more border patrol agents to combat drug trafficking.
House Democrats made a formal proposal that included the following things:
- No money for physical barriers
- Hundreds of millions of dollars to go toward screening technology
- Drug-related search and seizures
- Humanitarian aid
This week though, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats suggested they would be open to a form of “fencing along the border.” Pelosi said, “If the president wants to call that a wall, he can call it a wall.”
Recently, the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history took place at a port of entry, an area Democrats have been saying needs additional funding from Congress to improve border security.
According to one Customs and Border Protection agent, “[Trump’s] just out making noise, ringing his hands and pouting in a corner. We’re having conversations about line items and priorities for the department. And what he’s saying doesn’t really affect those line items or the priorities."
Democratic negotiator Rep. David Price of North Carolina claims he is worried Trump will force Republicans to give him a seat at the table. Price said, “Whatever [Trump] does, the Republicans do have some decisions to make as to how they’re going to proceed. I very much hope that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell will not again be on the sidelines, and the Republican members will provide a reality check, and not just take orders.”