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Immigration

Spending Bill Will Earmark $1.4 Billion for Border Barriers

People wave from behind the border fence in El Paso, Texas, October 26, 2019. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

The 2020 spending bill expected to pass this week will include $1.375 billion for the construction and maintenance of barriers at the southern border, the same level of funding Congress provided this year.

The White House has requested a much higher level of funding, $5 billion, for the construction of President Trump’s long-promised border wall.

Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, described the tentative agreement as a “meeting of the minds.”

The administration requested roughly the same level of border wall funding last December, exposing a sharp partisan divide in Congress on the issue and resulting in a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in the country’s history. Democrats at the time refused to approve over $1.6 billion for improving existing fencing along the border.

The acrimony reached a head last year just before the shutdown during a tense Oval Office meeting with the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The White House has attempted to make up the difference in border wall funding this year by drawing from “different funding sources,” including defense funds.

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to divert $3.6 billion in military funding towards the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration’s decision had prompted criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who said Congress should have a say in siphoning large amounts of money from the military.

The text of the nearly $1.4 trillion appropriations bill is expected to be released Monday, and the House and Senate are expected to approve the package before lawmakers leave for Christmas break.

The still unofficial agreement will also reportedly involve Republicans granting House Democrats some of their priorities, including expanding the federal Head Start early childhood education program for children from low-income families.

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