US Congress agrees finance bill to avoid government shutdown

12 Feb 19

US Democrats and Republicans have reached a tentative deal to prevent another government shutdown, giving funding to a US-Mexican border barrier.

The agreement contains only $1.35bn of the $5.7bn president Donald Trump had requested to fund a wall along the border, and it does not mention a concrete barrier.

The deal still needs to be approved by Congress and signed by the president after the agreement was reached yesterday evening.

The president has not yet said whether he will sign the deal but, after hearing of the agreement, told a rally in El Paso, Texas, last night that the government would be “building the wall anyway”.

The bill has to be approved by Friday, when funding runs out for some federal agencies.

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have refused to approve the $5.7bn for Trump’s Mexican border.

The last shutdown lasted 35 days and was the longest in US history. Hundreds of thousands of workers were without pay during this time and the impasse has been estimated to have cost the US economy billions.  

Details of the agreement have yet to be released but it is believed the money agreed would allow for 55 miles of new fencing along the Mexico border, built through existing designs, such as metal slats.

There was also an agreement to reduce the number of beds in detention centres to 40,250 from the current 49,057, the media has reported.

Yesterday, according to the Washington Post, talks between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress stalled over disagreement on the cap on beds in detention facilities.

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