Pete Marovich/Getty Images.
With a second government shutdown looming, Capitol Hill negotiators on Monday reached a tentative deal on border security. Per the Associated Press, the deal would allot $1.375 billion for new fencing between the United States and Mexico—enough to fund about 55 miles of new metal slats, and far less than the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump demanded for a concrete wall. In exchange, Democrats would drop their demand to limit detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Perhaps most importantly, the measure would fund the government through the end of September, preventing another punishing shutdown. “Some may be happy, some may not be happy,” Democrat Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told The Washington Post of the deal. “We did the best we could.”
The Monday agreement comes days ahead of the negotiating team’s February 15 deadline to reach a compromise, and just after the bipartisan panel’s talks appeared to have stalled. Republicans may find the deal wanting, but party leaders will likely regard it as preferable to another prolonged shutdown. “With the government being shut down, the specter of another shutdown this close, what brought us back together I thought tonight was we didn’t want that to happen,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby, who led the negotiations, told reporters after the tentative agreement was struck.
Barring a major hiccup, the deal will likely be supported by the party leadership on both sides. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has no reason not to introduce it on the House floor, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he’ll support a bipartisan deal, whether or not it has the president’s blessing. Trump’s most ardent fans, however, are already voicing dissatisfaction. “I’m going to tell this tonight and we will get back into this tomorrow,” Sean Hannity fumed on his Fox News show Monday night. “Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain.” Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, isn’t a fan either. “This does not represent a fraction of what the president has promised the American people,” he told reporters in a text. “I don’t speak for the president but I can’t imagine he will be applauding something so lacking.”
Still, the deal is likely as good as Trump is going to get. Having weakened his own negotiating position in his initial standoff with Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the president has found himself increasingly backed into a corner as Democrats refuse to cave to his soaring demands, Republicans signal they’re against both another shutdown and an emergency declaration, and even some White House aides reportedly urge him to compromise. But Trump has thumbed his nose at conventional wisdom before, including when he blew up a budget bill in December over his wall demands. Even if he doesn’t veto the bill—a threat he’s made many times but has never followed through on—he may find himself in legal hot water. A conservative House member indicated to CNN’s Dana Bash that Trump may still act unilaterally to get his wall built: “Trump will likely sign the deal to keep govt open, blame Congress for failing to do its job & then take some executive action for the wall/fence/barrier, triggering court fight.”
More Great Stories from Vanity Fair
— The leaking, gossiping, and infighting that made Kellyanne Conway a formidable White House player
— Why old news habits must die—so that real journalism can live
— Nancy Pelosi is America’s most powerful power-suit boss
— Is Kamala Harris the 2020 candidate to beat?
— Your passport to Vanity Fair’s 25th Hollywood Issue with Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Chadwick Boseman, and more
Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hive newsletter and never miss a story.