World

Top US lawmakers agree on border funding

By AAP Newswire

US congressional negotiators say an "agreement in principle" has been reached on border security funding, potentially averting another round of federal shutdowns.

Speaking after a meeting of negotiators, US Republican Senator Richard Shelby did not give an outline of the tentative deal.

But three people familiar with the deal told Associated Press the accord would provide $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers.

That's well below the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump demanded to build over 200 miles of wall along the Mexican boundary. The money will be for vertical steel slats called bollards, not a solid wall.

Democrats, meanwhile, dropped their proposal to limit the number of detained immigrants caught inside the U.S. to a daily average of 16,500.

Bargainers agreed to fund 40,520 beds to detain immigrants entering or in the U.S. illegally. That's the same number funded last year, though the actual figure held is around 49,000.

The negotiators had worked into the night in hopes of striking a deal on funding border security through September 30.

Now they will need the support of President Trump, whose signature will be needed ahead of the deadline at midnight Friday.

If lawmakers don't act, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed for a second time this year.

Negotiations had broken down over the weekend over funding for immigrant detention beds and physical barriers that would be funded along the US-Mexico border.

The lawmakers wanted to reach an agreement to allow time for the legislation to pass the House and Senate and get signed by President Trump.

Trump agreed on January 25 to end a 35-day partial US government shutdown without getting the $US5.7 billion he had demanded. Democrats oppose a wall, calling it ineffective, expensive and immoral.

Instead, a three-week spending deal was reached with congressional leaders to give lawmakers time to resolve their disagreements about how to address border security.

Trump, who said in December he would be "proud" to shut the federal government over border security, took a different tack on Monday.

"It's up to the Democrats," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked whether the government was headed toward its second shutdown of the winter.