Lawmakers haggling over border dollars much lower than Trump’s demand

Lawmakers seeking a deal on border security that would avert a second partial government shutdown are haggling over figures below President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the Mexican border.

Republican negotiators are pushing for $2 billion or more in funding, while Democrats say they hope the figure will not go above $1.6 billion.

Just as important are specifications for how funds can be spent, with Democrats pushing for specific restrictions on what kinds of barriers could be built and where.

“I want the highest possible number we can get, but I would hope it would be north of” $2 billion, said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), a member of the bipartisan negotiating committee. The Hill’s Niv Elis fills us in here.

The details

  • Lawmakers face a Feb. 15 deadline to reach a deal and are working through the weekend to try to get one in place by Monday, which would give the House and Senate enough time to pass a bill before funds for parts of the government would run out.
  • Trump has largely allowed talks to proceed unimpeded, but negotiators are concerned that he will dismiss the final result as insufficient.
  • At that point, they worry, he could allow the government to shut down for the second time this year or declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build the wall using other funds.

What comes next: The status of negotiations is expected to come up at Camp David Friday evening, where acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is convening a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including three of the conferees and several Budget Committee members.

Democratic negotiators say they are reviewing the latest offer Republicans sent over on Thursday night, and expect to respond tonight. Though conferees have not yet scheduled another meeting for the weekend, staff negotiations are expected to continue.

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