FY '19 Appropriations Bill
Congressional negotiators reached an "agreement in principle" last night on a compromise that would give President Trump far fewer dollars than he was seeking for the construction of a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. However, in return, the agreement would enable him to build up to 55 miles of new fencing along the border, and a demand by House Democrats' to make deep cuts in the number of detention beds was dropped.
Detention Beds. House Democrats reportedly dropped their demand for deep cuts in the number of detention beds that the Department of Homeland Security can maintain. The agreement does reportedly contain somewhat of a reduction in the number of such beds relative to the President's request, funding just over 40,520 such beds. That number would equal the number contained in last year's Senate Appropriations Committee-approved Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. That number would be 5,000 more than House Democrats wanted, but 11,500 below the 52,000 average daily population that President Trump had demanded earlier this year. However, the agreement reportedly provides the Administration with flexibility that could see the number of detention beds surge to as many as 58,500. This is because the agreement reportedly contains language providing that if ICE experiences a "surge in apprehensions," it could reprogram up to $750 million in additional detention funding from other DHS accounts.
Other Appropriations Bills. in addition to fully funding the FY 19 Department of Homeland Security, Appropriations Act, the measure would fully fund for the rest of the fiscal year the six other un-enacted Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations measures: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, State-Foreign Operations and Transportation-HUD. Two of those bills (Sate-Foreign Operations and Commerce-Justice-Science) contain significant immigration- or refugee-related provisions. But those provisions are not considered controversial.
Next Steps. It is anticipated that the legislative language of the compromise will be finalized and released sometime today or tomorrow. Once that is done, the wheels will be put in motion for the House and Senate to take up the measure.
It is possible that Congress will resort to passing a short-term stop-gap measure to keep the government open until the agreement can be properly drafted and moved through the House and Senate.