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Shutdown chance looms as wall negotiations continue

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that if Congress approves a lesser amount, Trump could make up the difference from elsewhere or declare a national emergency.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said a government shutdown is "technically still on the table"." Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mark Wilson

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday a government shutdown is “technically still on the table” if a bipartisan group of lawmakers fails to deliver a border security deal President Donald Trump agrees with by Friday, Feb. 15.

“We do not want it to come to that, but that option is still open to the president and will remain so,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.

Mulvaney’s comments came as members of the bipartisan congressional committee reported that negotiations have broken down and lawmakers are considering proposing another short-term spending bill to provide the grou[p with additional time to strike a new border security deal.

“I think the talks are stalled right now,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) on “Fox News Sunday.”

Shelby, the lead Republican negotiator on the committee said he believed lawmakers had a “50-50” chance of reaching a deal in time to avoid another government shutdown.

Shelby said the impasse is focused in part on Democrats’ demands that there be a cap on the number of beds provided to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to detain immigrants as they await deportation proceedings.

Trump, in a Sunday morning tweet, weighed in on the issue, writing: “I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), another member of the panel appearing on “Fox News Sunday” said while talks are stalled, “negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through. It’s give and take. It’s compromise.”

“We are not to a point where we can announce a deal, negotiations are still going on," Tester said. “There are good people on this committee so I have confidence that hopefully we will get something done very soon."

Trump, who forced a 35-day partial government shutdown over his demands for $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border, has insisted he will not accept a smaller figure. Mulvaney left the door open to Trump turning to other government funding sources if lawmakers do not deliver all the money he has requested.

“We’ll take as much money as you can give us and then we will ... find the money somewhere else legally in order to secure that southern barrier,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mulvaney, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said the “most likely outcome” is that Trump will need to look beyond a congressional appropriations package to fund his long promised border wall.

“You cannot take the shutdown off the table and you cannot take $5.7 billion off the table, but if you end up some place in the middle, what you'll probably see is the president say: 'Ok, and then I'll go find the money some place else,’ ” Mulvaney said.

The bipartisan committee was formed last month after Trump signed a three-week spending bill to end the 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. Lawmakers have until Friday to pass a spending bill and deliver it to the president’s desk for approval.


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