January 26, 2019 / 11:00 AM / 6 months ago

RPT-EXPLAINER-How U.S. Congress will negotiate border security deal

 (Repeats with no changes)
    By Richard Cowan
    WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - A 35-day struggle between
President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress to cut a deal to
end the partial government shutdown finally ended on Friday. Now
the hard part begins.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers will have until Feb. 15
to craft a border security agreement satisfactory to both sides.
    Trump has threatened that if he doesn't like the outcome, he
could throw the government right back into shutdown mode.
    Or, he also said, he might try declaring a "national
emergency" which, he said, would get him the $5.7 billion he
wants for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Such a step would also
likely trigger a court battle with Democrats.
    While Trump did not get that money in Friday's deal, he won
a promise that Congress will work on a Department of Homeland
Security spending bill that contains border security funding for
the rest of the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. 
    Here is how the negotiations in Congress are expected to go:
    A "conference committee" will be appointed by Senate
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic House of
Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led the opposition to
Trump's demand that his border wall money be part of any
legislation to fully reopen the government.
    The committee will include members of the House and Senate
appropriations panels. They will meet in public session and in
private sessions to work on a "conference report."
    Trump will try to pressure fellow Republicans to insist on
including $5.7 billion in the report for his wall, although a
White House aide said on Friday a compromise for less would be
acceptable. Democrats are likely to resist any wall funding.
    The committee will weigh different compromises, including
possibly $1.6 billion in border security spending resembling a
request Trump included in his budget proposals to Congress last
year. Higher sums are likely to be debated too.
    A House Democratic aide said the committee also could
consider major changes to U.S. immigration law, such as
providing protection from deportation for "Dreamers," those
undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States
when they were minors.
    The committee will specify uses for any border money. In the
past, Congress has provided money for "physical barriers" along
the border and for electronic sensors, drones and other tools.
    Once a deal is struck, the conference committee members will
vote to send it to the House and Senate floor for passage.
    Under the rules, lawmakers can try to remove provisions in
the agreement seen as outside the scope of the conference
    If the House and the Senate each pass the conference
agreement, it will go to the president for signing into law.
    If at any point in the process there is a breakdown, there
is the risk of government agencies being thrown back into
partial shutdown after Feb. 15.
    Alternatively, Congress could pass another stopgap funding
bill to give conferees a little more time to work out a deal.

 (Reporting by Richard Cowan and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Kevin
Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)
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