Lawmakers okay $1.4bn for wall, await Trump’s response

Updated 13 Feb 2019

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In this file photo taken on February 6, 2019, a toy is seen from Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, Mexico as members of the US Border Police guard the international bridge in Texas. ─ AFP
In this file photo taken on February 6, 2019, a toy is seen from Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, Mexico as members of the US Border Police guard the international bridge in Texas. ─ AFP

WASHINGTON: US lawmakers reached a preliminary deal to provide some funding for President Donald Trump’s Mexico border wall but waited on Tuesday to see if he accepts the compromise and cancels a threatened government shutdown.

At nearly $1.4 billion for wall construction, the budget agreed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers was far less than the $5.7 billion that Trump wanted.

Trump has not given a definite answer, telling a crowd of supporters at a rally in the Texas frontier city of El Paso late on Monday only that there was “probably some good news, but who knows?” The money, along with other border security measures, was presented as a workable deal to satisfy both sides and allow

Trump to shelve his threat to shut down swaths of government on Friday. The funds would allow 55 miles of new walls along the border.

Hundreds of miles of barriers already run along the US-Mexican border but Trump says far more is needed to bring what he often calls an “invasion” of migrant criminals under control. Democrats say Trump vastly exaggerates the crime problem and uses the issue to whip up his right-wing voter base.

In December, Trump tried to pressure Congress into approving the $5.7 billion by refusing to sign off on funding swaths of government that have nothing to do with the wall, putting 800,000 jobs, from FBI agents to airport security, on hold for five weeks.

The Democrats refused to budge and Trump was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, allowing new negotiations to open with a new deadline of this Friday.

Republicans appear desperate to avoid a second shutdown.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the compromise deal was “certainly good news.” “It provides new funds for miles of new border barriers,” he told senators.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2019