| February 10, 2019 09:49 AM
Updated Feb 10, 2019, 10:30 AM
A key Republican involved in the negotiations over a border security deal said talks are at a stalemate with the deadline to avert another government shutdown fast approaching.
“I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because time is ticking away, but we got some problems with the Democrats dealing with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S. And they want a cap on them, we don’t want a cap on that,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Shelby is among the bipartisan group of lawmakers working to reach agreement on a border security deal before Friday, when funding for a slew of government agencies will lapse again. A 35-day partial government shutdown ended late last month after President Trump signed a stopgap measure.
A point of contention for congressional negotiators is funding for a wall along the southern border, for which Trump wants $5.7 billion. Democrats are opposed to the demand.
The two sides have also reached a stalemate over immigrant detention beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can use. Democrats want to cap funding for the beds while Republicans oppose the restrictions.
Lawmakers working on the deal huddled at Camp David this weekend for further talks with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, though Shelby and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who is also working on the border deal, indicated another shutdown is possible.
“I’m not positive we will end up with a deal, but with this group of people and the folks from the House, I think we are going to end up with something that deals with detention beds, with barriers, with technology, with the challenges we have on the southern border in a commonsense way,” Tester, who joined Shelby on “Fox News Sunday, said. “Chairman Shelby is correct, time is of the essence. We need to move forward, we need to keep our eyes on this but I’m very hopeful, not positive, but very hopeful we can come to an agreement.”
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who invited lawmakers to Camp David this weekend to work on a deal, would not rule out another government shutdown.
“The president has to sign a piece of legislation in order to keep the government open. He cannot sign everything they put in front of him. There will be some things that simply we couldn’t agree to,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So the government shutdown is technically still on the table. We do not want it to come to that, but that option is still open to the president and will remain so.”
Shelby, meanwhile, said there is a “50-50” chance they reach an agreement, and noted Monday is effectively a deadline for lawmakers in terms of moving legislation through the House and Senate before funding lapses Friday.
“I’m not confident we’re going to get there,” he said.