US talks to stop another government shutdown stall

11 Feb 19

Talks between Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress aimed at stopping another government shutdown have broken down without agreement.

The lawmakers were trying to come up with a deal on border security funding. Negotiators were hoping for a deal by today to give Congress time to pass funding legislation by Friday, when last month’s federal funding runs out.

According to Republican senator Richard Shelby, the talks “stalled” over the Democrats demand to cap the number of beds in detention centres for people who enter the country illegally.  He told Fox News in an interview that he was “not confident” that a deal would be reached.

It is unclear when the next negotiations will take place as no further talks have been scheduled, Reuters reported.

The last shutdown lasted 35 days and was the longest in US history. Hundreds of thousands of workers were without pay during this time and the impasse has been estimated to have cost the US economy billions.   

Democrats want the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on detaining migrants with a criminal background, instead of those who have overstayed their visas, by limiting the beds in detention facilities.

They were hoping to cap the number of beds at 16,500, which is roughly the number of detainees during the last year of Obama’s presidency, according to the Washington Post.

Negotiators from the Republican-led Senate and the House of Representatives, which is currently led by a Democratic majority, have also been trying to secure between $1.3bn and $2bn to fund president Donald Trump’s wall on the border – over which the government shut down in December.

He was previously requesting $5.7bn.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that he did not think a deal would be made. He said the Democrats were “offering very little money for the desperately needed border wall and now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention”.



Democratic Jon Tester, who is negotiating the spending plans, said he was hopefully a deal could be reached in time to avoid a shutdown. He said: “It’s a negotiation. Negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through.”

On 25 January Trump agreed to a three-week spending deal to end the shutdown and allow Congress time to reach an agreement.

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