- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2019

Democrats are pushing for the package of spending bills Congress is writing to include language that would block the Trump administration from tightening the bar on those seeking asylum.

Rep. David Price, North Carolina Democrat, said Friday that his proposal is still in play in the negotiations.

“I think it’s very important to do,” he said.

He and other Democrats have balked at the administration’s move to restrict asylum to its traditional scope of people fleeing political, religious or sex-based persecution by governments. Justice and Homeland Security officials say the policy had gotten out of hand with migrants able to make asylum claims based on domestic violence or crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The policy is currently on hold thanks to a court ruling, but the president’s opponents want a more permanent blockade in place.

Mr. Price said his amendment is part of the discussions over an omnibus spending bill to cover the seven bills Congress failed to pass on time last year. One of those, the Homeland Security spending bill, has been the big sticking point, with President Trump’s request for wall money.

“Certainly Republican members, as well as Democrats, know that shutting the door to victims of domestic and gang violence is contrary to this country’s best traditions — a lot of them feel that too, so I hope we’ll get agreement on this,” said Mr. Price, one of the 17 negotiators working on a final deal.

The new administration policy requires immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to provide evidence that they’re effectively victims of government-sanctioned abuse, rather than demonstrate a general fear that they’ll face domestic or gang violence in their home countries.

Rep. Charles Fleischmann, Tennessee Republican and another negotiator on the current 17-member committee, was skeptical the language would be approved.

“I don’t think it’ll make the final package,” he said. “I understand his strong-felt beliefs on that, but I don’t think anybody at this point in time is going to bring something in that might be a deal-breaker on either side when we’re so close.”

Lawmakers have expressed optimism in recent days that they’ll be able to come to an agreement on border security funding in time to avert another shutdown at the end of next week.

Rep. Kay Granger, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said the negotiators are trying to put together a final package by Monday.

That would give the House and Senate sufficient time to jump through procedural hoops and get something to the president’s desk by next Friday.

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