Congressional bargainers present bill to fund government, avoid shutdown

Bipartisan Congressional bargainers have completed a 1,159-page bill to fund the government and avoid another shutdown, House Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey said in the early hours of Thursday morning. According to summaries of the bill, it includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of bollard fencing along the southern border and Rio Grande Valley of Texas — a fraction of the more than $5 billion President Trump had requested for a border wall.

The bill will still need to be approved by both the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic majority House of Representatives — with both votes expected to happen later on Thursday — and then signed by Mr. Trump to avert another government shutdown. 

Congress is widely expected to pass the bill. 

“I’m sure it’s going to pass. I don’t know of any drama,” House Democrats’ chief vote-counter, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said late on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump has not confirmed his backing of the agreement, pending a full review of the text, but an official familiar with the matter told CBS News this week that he was “very likely” to sign the deal if it reaches his desk, even though he told reporters on Tuesday, “I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

Mr. Trump refused to sign a budget bill at the end of 2018 that did not include more than $5 billion he had requested for the border wall. He tweeted on Tuesday he had reviewed the border funding agreement reached by the bipartisan group of congressional negotiators.

Trump “not happy” with border security deal, still likely to sign

An additional $900 million was set aside under the agreement finalized on Wednesday night for enhanced inspections at ports of entry, new technology, opioid detection and customs officers. Funding is set aside for 40,520 ICE detention beds by the end of the fiscal year, down from the approximately 49,060 current ICE beds, according to summaries of the bill. 

The bill also includes $415 million for what Lowey called a “more humane immigration system,” including medical support, transportation, food and clothing for migrants in detention.

The bill also includes a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal civilian workers, overriding Mr. Trump’s order to deny a pay raise.

If Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill, the government will shut down again at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, three weeks after the historic 35-day government shutdown. 

CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday that the president has been handed the “worst deal of all the ones ever put before him,” because it contains the smallest dollar amount for border security funding.

In recent days and weeks, the president hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a national emergency declaration if he doesn’t get sufficient funding for the border wall in the legislation. Such a declaration would allow him to bypass Congress to find money to build the wall from other federal budget areas — most probably national defense. 

President Trump insisted on Wednesday that his administration will construct a wall along the southwestern border regardless of congressional support.

“As we review the new proposal from Congress, I can promise you this: I will never waver from my sacred duty to defend this nation and its people,” the president told a conference of sheriffs and police chiefs in Washington. “We will get the job done. The wall is very very on its way.”

Mr. Trump said his “big” and “strong” proposed wall will deter illegal immigration and drug smuggling. “They will be able to climb Mt. Everest a lot easier,” he added.

Earlier Wednesday, during a photo op with the president of Colombia, Mr. Trump told reporters he’d be looking for rhetorical “land mines” in the legislation. He accused Democrats of being “stingy” with border funding, though he maintains he has “options that most people don’t understand” for building a southern border wall.

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