Lawmakers have made notable progress on a deal to end the federal government shutdown five weeks after it first started, several Capitol Hill sources told The Daily Beast on Friday morning.
The deal, like all those that require President Trump’s sign-off, is subject to revision and remains at the mercy of the president’s political whims. But the sources said that the talks, which began in earnest Thursday afternoon, had moved along further than any before and that news of terminals closing at LaGuardia Airport because of a reported shortage of air traffic controllers had put “gasoline on the fire.”
Under the proposed resolution, the government would be reopened with funding set at current levels. Lawmakers are still negotiating how long that funding should last, with Democrats pushing for as long a deal as possible so as to not end up back at the current situation within a matter of weeks.
There will be no funding included in the deal for Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border. Nor will the deal include a “down-payment” as the president requested on Thursday.
In exchange for those concessions, Democrats would agree to a nominal amount of money for border security but not a wall. That exact amount is still being negotiated, though one source said it would be relatively small. Lawmakers would also agree to go to a conference committee (a negotiating committee between the House and the Senate) on an appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security—the idea being that Trump would look at that process as a way to ultimately extract some wall money.
Of the four sources that confirmed the contours of these discussions, all stressed that they could change immediately. One Democratic Senate aide noted that the same deal had been discussed “weeks ago” only to be shelved when the White House said it wouldn’t support it.
The biggest question mark remains how the president would stomach such a deal and, as importantly, who can sell him on it.
Republican aides have insisted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) negotiate directly with Trump to resolve the standoff. But a Senate Democratic aide stressed on Friday morning that they were waiting to hear what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) himself had discussed with the president.
“Dems are waiting to hear back from Sen. McConnell about his talks with the White House,” the aide said.
The majority leader had resisted bringing legislation to the Senate floor unless it had the president’s support. He brought two bills on Thursday, one clean and one that—per Trump’s request—funded the border wall in exchange for modest immigration protections.
Trump’s bill fared worse than the clean alternative.