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
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
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
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.