US lawmakers debate new funding measure to avoid second government shutdown

US lawmakers debate new funding measure to avoid second government shutdown

To avoid a further government shutdown, American lawmakers are inching towards a deal that maintains border security funding—a bill that

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Photo: Reuters

To avoid a further government shutdown, American lawmakers are inching towards a deal that maintains border security funding—a bill that both houses of Congress and President Trump must agree to by their self-imposed deadline of February 15.

For Mr Trump, $5.7 billion for “a wall” or, at the least, a barrier, is critical—a demand reiterated in his State of the Union address on February 6. Democrats, who control the lower house, accept that a “barrier” is part of the funding package, but it is well down the list of priorities. Democrats would rather fund technological upgrades, such as high-powered scanners to detect narcotics and differentiate between animals and humans at distance.

Both Congressional leaders Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Republican Mitch McConnell have agreed to support whatever bipartisan deal is reached by the joint-house negotiators. The risk is whether the president will veto the legislation. In December, he vetoed a similar compromise deal.

Negotiators appear to have agreed to a “barrier” of some sort. However, Democrats will never approve a deal that uses all $5.7 billion to fund a barrier. A significant proportion will need to go towards technological upgrades. Still, momentum is building for a deal, and anything resembling a “wall” would be a big win for Trump, buoying his base for his re-election campaign.

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