Dems Prepare Border Security Package 01/24 06:24

Dems Prepare Border Security Package   01/24 06:24

   House Democrats, feeling pressure to display their vision for border 
security, are preparing a package that would ignore President Donald Trump's 
demand for $5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico and would instead pay for other 
ideas aimed at protecting the border.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats, feeling pressure to display their vision 
for border security, are preparing a package that would ignore President Donald 
Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico and would instead pay 
for other ideas aimed at protecting the border.

   As the government slogged through a record 33rd day of its partial shutdown 
Wednesday, details of Democrats' border security plan and its cost remained a 
work in progress, though some said it might match Trump's $5.7 billion figure. 
Party leaders said it would include money for scanning devices and other 
technological tools for improving security at ports of entry and along the 
boundary, plus funds for more border agents and immigration judges.

   "If his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves 
fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart 
wall," said No. 3 House Democratic leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

   Democrats' movement toward producing a plan, which they said they expected 
to unveil this week, was significant because it underscored a growing 
uneasiness with letting Trump cast them as soft on border security. It came as 
the Senate prepared for Thursday votes on rival plans for reopening federal 
agencies and paying 800,000 federal workers who are days from missing yet 
another paycheck.

   Republicans would couple ending the shutdown with financing Trump's wall and 
revamping immigration laws. Democrats would reopen agency doors through Feb. 8 
while bargainers seek an accord.

   Both faced likely defeat, but that might spur the two sides into a more 
serious effort to strike a compromise when each saw it lacked the votes to 
prevail. Both proposals would need 60 votes to pass in a chamber with 53-47 
Republican control.

   Ominously, the day's signs pointed to continued partisan hostilities.

   Trump told White House reporters that Democrats had become "radicalized" and 
"a very, very dangerous party," and took personal aim at Congress' top two 
Democrats. He said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is "very strongly 
dominated" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling him her "puppet."

   Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Senate Republicans to abandon Trump despite his 
sway with conservative voters, saying, "I know that President Trump has some 
power in these Republican primaries, but sometimes you have to rise to the 
occasion."

   A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research 
released Wednesday was the latest indicator that the shutdown is hurting Trump 
with the general public. While his approval among Republicans remains strong, 
just 34 percent of Americans like his performance as president and 6 in 10 
assign a great deal of responsibility to him for the shutdown, around double 
the share blaming Democrats.

   The Senate GOP bill would temporarily shield from deportation 700,000 
"Dreamers," migrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, protections 
Trump has tried terminating. He's also offered temporary protections for people 
who fled violence or natural disasters in several countries --- another program 
Trump has curtailed.

   Democrats have objected to other provisions making it harder for Central 
American minors to gain asylum in the U.S.

   The testy relationship between Trump and Pelosi, D-Calif., decayed further 
when she informed him he couldn't use the House chamber for his planned State 
of the Union address next Tuesday. She invited him to speak "when government 
has been opened."

   Trump said he'd plan an event elsewhere and called Pelosi's move "a great 
blotch on the country" that showed she didn't want "the truth" about border 
security. But late Wednesday night he tweeted that he would postpone the 
address until after the shutdown had ended, saying no other venue could match 
the House chamber.

   The clash over the speech suggested that a collaborative atmosphere that 
could facilitate a shutdown deal wasn't at hand.

   Democratic leaders have insisted they won't negotiate with Trump on border 
security unless he reopens the government. Trump has said he'll end the 
shutdown only if Congress provides money for the wall, though White House 
officials have indicated he's open to counteroffers.

   Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., has urged the White House to provide green 
cards to 700,000 Dreamers as a way to break the impasse. Lankford has mentioned 
this to White House adviser Jared Kushner, said a person familiar with the 
conversations who wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

   With Democrats eager to show they're trying to end the impasse, the House 
used mostly party-line votes Wednesday to approve one measure reopening 
government agencies through February. By a similar tally, the chamber voted to 
finance most shuttered agencies through September.

   Growing numbers of House Democrats say the party should show where it stands 
on border security.

   "Right now it's a vacuum and the president is offering fake plans to stop 
drug smuggling," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. Offering a Democratic 
alternative "helps the possibility of beginning a real negotiation," he said.

   Their proposal is expected to exceed the $1.6 billion Trump initially sought 
for the wall before upping his request.


(KA)

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