Government funding expires on Friday, Feb. 15. If Congress is unable to agree on a DHS funding package by Friday, the government could shut down again. Trump continues to demand money for his wall—while also threatening to go around Congress if he doesn't get what he wants.
The latest is that after trading offers and counteroffers for several days, negotiations in Congress have essentially stalled. But given the immense pressure negotiators are under to avert a shutdown, we still expect the conference committee to reach a deal before Friday—or perhaps agree to another stopgap spending bill. It's hard to say what might be included in a final deal, but it appears the main sticking points are around three main issues.
(1) Border wall. Trump has backed off of his $5.7 billion demand, but is still insisting on a sizable down payment on his wall. Whether it's $1 billion or $6 billion, a border wall would devastate border communities and waste billions of taxpayer dollars.
(2) ICE agents. We're hearing that Democrats may have already agreed to add funding for more ICE agents, known as Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Democrats will argue that these agents aren't the ones that are tearing families apart. That's not true. HSI agents conduct worksite raids and detain and deport people just like other ICE agents. When you hear stories of immigrant children whose parents don't come home from work, that's often because of HSI agents.
(3) Beds. In two years, Trump has dramatically expanded the number of immigrants being jailed. In President Obama's last year in office, 34,000 immigrants were in ICE detention. Now, the number is close to 50,000—despite the fact that Congress has only given ICE the money to hold 40,500. How can ICE hold more than Congress has authorized? Because they use their transfer and reprogramming authority to effectively steal money from other programs to jail more immigrants and families. You may hear that Democrats are doing something about it—lowering the number of or adding a cap on the number of beds. The bottom line is that unless there are strict prohibitions on ICE's ability to reprogram money, they'll continue to expand the number of immigrants they jail.
This is a critical week in this fight. Call your MoCs and tell them No Beds, No Boots, No Wall! If the conference committee deal includes additional funding for any of these, Congress should instead pass a clean, short-term CR.
Rep. Bryan Steil (202) 225-3031
Sen. Ron Johnson (202) 224-5323
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (202) 224-5653
Outside of Wisconsin (202) 224-3121