United States legislators have reached a tentative deal on funding for border security to avoid another government shutdown that was due to start on Saturday, AFP reported. However, the budget for a wall along the Mexico border is far less than what President Donald Trump had demanded, officials said.
“We’ve reached an agreement in principle between us on the Homeland Security and the other six bills,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told reporters.
The border wall was one of the Trump election campaign’s main promises. The disagreement over funding the wall on the border ended up in the longest government shutdown in December-January. It left more than 800,000 government workers without pay, until the shutdown ended when Trump signed a deal on January 25 to give the Congress 21 days to come up with an agreement or face further blocking of funds.
The details of the new agreement will not be officially released until Tuesday, AP reported. Unidentified congressional aides told AP that the Republicans agreed to settle for a figure of $1.4 billion, instead of Trump’s demand of $5.7 billion. This would fund 55 miles of new fencing, constructed with existing materials such as metal slats, instead of a concrete wall. The fencing will be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
Trump was holding a rally in the border city of El Paso in Texas when the tentative deal was announced. “Just so you know – we are building the wall anyway,” he said at the rally, according to Reuters. “Maybe progress has been made – maybe not.”
The agreement also included curbing funds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. Democrats claimed the number of beds would be brought down to 40,520 as against the 49,000 beds on February 10, the most recent date when figures were available.