The federal government could be closed for business again if lawmakers in Washington don’t end a deadlock by Friday about border security funding. U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, says Democrats suddenly want to restrict how many immigrants here illegally are held in detention centers.
“Surely, we are not going to shutdown the government over that,” Blunt tells Missourinet. “That would be a major difficulty, I think, for the Democrats to try to explain why detention facilities would be the problem here. The border itself continues to be a challenge.”
Democrats say the move would force immigration officials to concentrate on dangerous immigrants.
Blunt – one of the bill’s negotiators – says President Donald Trump has given Congress until Friday to make a deal. Trump, a fellow Republican, has threatened to declare a national emergency to get federal funding for his promised additional wall at the southern border.
“I think there are places the president can get additional money and other presidents have done that,” says Blunt. “I would have real concerns declaring an emergency where the president can determine that ‘The way Congress has decided to spend the money and I’ve agreed with my signature to spend the money is not how we’re going to spend the money. We’re going to spend it on something else.’”
Blunt, who chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee, says the move would be a “real problem” for him, even though he agrees with building additional wall.
“I don’t think an emergency is something you’ve been talking about for five or six years,” he says. “If you’ve got a problem you’ve been talking about for a long time, it’s the job of the president and the Congress to resolve that the way the U.S. Constitution says it should be resolved. I do think there are other places the president can go without that emergency declaration and I’m certainly going to try to help him find those if Congress doesn’t come up with enough money to do the job at the border that needs to be done.”
Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been at drastic odds about border security funding since roughly December – leading to a partial shutdown around Christmas. Originally, Trump called for $5.7 billion to build additional barriers at the border.
“We’re still negotiating. We’re at no particular number right now,” says Blunt. “When you look at what could happen between now and the end of this spending year, I don’t think you could spend $5.7 billion. So, the number is going to wind up being a number lower than that.”
The federal government agencies that could be closed during another potential shutdown are unknown. The last shutdown left 800,000 workers without paychecks in agencies like the IRS, NASA, Interior, Housing & Urban Development, Agriculture, among others.
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