Democrats Negotiate Trump's Wall: How About a 'Pedestrian Fence'?
Counter offer is a $1.6 billion on 'fencing' on the pedestrian walkway in the Rio Grande
After months of the Democrats point-blank refusing to grant $5.7B for President Donald Trump's wall funding, some have given a counter offer saying they might be able to agree to spend $1.6 billion on 'fencing' spanning the pedestrian walkway in the Rio Grande Valley.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who is one of nine Democrats tasked with settling on a border security deal by Feb. 15, said he would senators have to say.
“I’d be willing to listen and see what those senators have to say,” Cuellar said.
“I’ve been very clear that I don’t like the wall," he added.
Despite Trump's demands for a wall, there might be room for compromise that involves a fence.
Last year, the Homeland Security funding bill that included $1.6 billion for 65 miles of pedestrian fencing in the Rio Grande Valley was passed by The Senate Appropriations Committee.
But so far, it falls way outside the $5.7 billion Trump is requesting, and would not approve a steel barrier construction, something which Trump insisted is the best approach to stop illegal immigration
The fencing, which represents the construction of a barrier along the border, has already won the backing of 10 Appropriations Committee Democrats in the Senate in the past.
Among those who approved it was Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont, one of the negotiators who is voting for funding for the fencing.
“Whether that’s where we end up as I have no idea,” Tester told the Washington Examiner.
The 17 member panel made of Democrats stated they do not reject the idea of new fencing, providing it doesn't constitute a concrete border worth $5.7 billion like Trump is asking.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif. said will not support Trump's border wall, but is not ruling out the Senate proposal.
“I don’t think that’s really the question. It’s more the whole issue of does he still want that concrete wall he keeps talking about?”
The Homeland Security bill is connected to six other measures that finance nine departments and agencies, which means obtaining an accord by the deadline is crucial.
The group is desperately trying to avoid another partial government shutdown, so finding a compromise that can pass both chambers is essential.
Trump said he is willing to veto the measure if it doesn’t include border funding and is maintaining his demand for $5.7 billion.
Trump is already preparing a plan to declare a national emergency and draft $7 billion to fund construction of the wall along the Southern Border.
CNN reported his move last week, which was later supported by the White House director of strategic communications, Mercedes Schlapp, who confirmed the plan to Fox News.
The House and Senate negotiators will hold their first meeting Wednesday next week.
Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R- W.Va, said the Senate bipartisan agreement on the fence develops into a more comprehensive deal.
“I certainly think, for the base bill, it’s a good place to start,” Capito said.
“The figure there, in my view, it’s a good starting point, because it’s already been agreed upon by a lot of bipartisan lawmakers."
“I thought it was a good place to start,” Shelby said.
“Some of the Democrats thought it was too much later on, and the president didn’t think it was enough.”