Trump likely to get fraction of wall money

By AAP Newswire

US Congressional negotiators are working toward a border security deal as the White House prepares to accept a bipartisan agreement that would give President Donald Trump a fraction of the money he's demanded for his proposed southern border wall.

Participants said they expect money for physical barriers to end up well below the $US5.7 billion that Trump has sought to begin construction of the wall.

Underscoring the clout he's lost during a battle that's dominated the opening weeks of divided government, the amount seems sure to fall much closer to the $US1.6 billion included in a bipartisan Senate bill last year.

An agreement would also avert a new partial federal shutdown next weekend.

Trump has warned he might trigger a new closure of agencies if he doesn't get his way, but that threat has become toothless because of solid opposition from Republican lawmakers burned by the record 35-day closure that he initiated in December.

One White House aide said Trump was expected to back whatever compromise emerges and acknowledged there is no will among congressional Republicans for another shutdown.

Coupled with a widespread expectation that the agreement would not use the term "wall," the pact would represent a significant retreat for Trump, for whom "Build the wall!" has been a battle cry since his presidential campaign.

Democrats seemed to draw a firm line on spending.

"Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a border security compromise not be overly reliant on physical barriers," said Evan Hollander, spokesman for Democrats, who control the House Appropriations Committee.

"We will not agree to $US2 billion in funding for barriers."

The White House has been considering accepting the deal but also using executive action to secure additional barrier funding without congressional approval, two people familiar with White House thinking said.

Depending on what Trump does, such an action could spark lawsuits or congressional votes of disapproval.

Besides the dollar figure, talks were focusing on the type and location of barriers, participants said.

Also in play were the number of beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could have for detained migrants and the amount of aid included for natural disaster relief.

Money for high-tech surveillance equipment and more personnel are also expected to be included.