- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Negotiators working on a homeland security funding bill are scheduled to receive a closed-door briefing from border patrol agents Wednesday about the experts’ experiences protecting the U.S.-Mexico border.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, on Tuesday officially announced details of the briefing, which will be open to congressional negotiators and staff members with a “Secret” security clearance.

Several House members on the 17-member committee trying to work out a funding compromise also took a field trip to the southern border earlier this week to hear from experts on the ground, as the members try to craft a deal to beat the next government funding deadline of Feb. 15.

Sen. John Thune, the No. 2-ranking Republican in the Senate, on Tuesday said he’s heard “positive” things so far out of the committee, which held its first public meeting last week.

“Our members I’ve talked to that are involved with the discussions say that they’re exchanging proposals and that they feel like there’s some progress being made,” the South Dakota Republican told reporters.

House Democrats last week unveiled their opening offer for a 2019 homeland security funding bill that included no new money for President Trump’s desired U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Mr. Thune said he hopes both sides can settle on a mutual definition of what a “barrier” is, and then settle on a compromise number. The White House and congressional Republicans have advocated for $5.7 billion in wall money.

“Then both sides will have given a little bit and we could get a deal,” Mr. Thune said.

Mr. Trump has also hinted he could declare a national emergency on the border, which could then allow the U.S. military to build the wall.

Mr. Thune said he hopes the president doesn’t take that approach, pointing out that it could set the stage for future Democratic presidents to declare an emergency to get around Congress and pursue their own policy agendas.

“I think it’s fair to say that there have been lots of concerns expressed about that approach, which have been conveyed by many of our members directly to the president and certainly to members of the administration,” he said.

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