‘Agreement in principle’ reached to avoid US government shutdown

Announcement of possible deal comes as Trump heads to El Paso to make case for a border wall that Democrats oppose.

Border wall protest
A man holds a sign during a march by members of Border Network for Human Rights to protest against Trump's proposed wall, in El Paso, Texas [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

Negotiators in the US Congress say they have reached an “agreement in principle” to fund the government and avoid another partial government shutdown.

The emerging agreement was announced late on Monday by a group of politicians, including Republican Senator Richard Shelby and Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Shelby did not give an outline of the deal but said staff members would work out the details.

Negotiators scrambled on Monday afternoon to save the talks after they fell apart over the weekend due to disagreements over immigrant detention beds and physical barriers along the US-Mexico border


US President Donald Trump‘s December demand for $5.7bn to help construct a border wall triggered the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended last month. It was the longest government closure of its kind in US history.

Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow congressional negotiators time to find a compromise on government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

Duelling rallies

Meanwhile, on Monday night, Trump held a campaign-style rally in the border city of El Paso, Texas.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to El Paso to make his case that a border wall was necessary, claiming that barriers turned the city from one of the nation’s most dangerous to one of its safest. The claim comes despite statistics showing El Paso had a murder rate of less than half the national average in 2005, a year before the most recent expansion of its border fence.  


The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows that El Paso’s annual number of reported violent crimes dropped from nearly 5,000 in 1995 to around 2,700 in 2016. But that corresponded with similar declines in violent crime nationwide and included periods when the city’s crime rates increased year over year, despite new fencing and walls.

The Trump campaign released a video showing El Paso residents saying the wall helped reduce crime. But many in the city have bristled at the prospect of becoming a border wall poster child.

But the Republican president was also greeted by thousands of anti-wall protesters.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from El Paso, said many of the anti-wall protesters “felt insulted that the president pictured the city as a community rife with crime, drugs, human trafficking and a very unsafe place in his State of the Union speech last week and said that’s false.”

Leading the protesters was hometown Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman who in November lost a close election for a US Senate seat in Texas to Republican Ted Cruz. He is now considering seeking his party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has sought to crack down on immigration.

Trump made a border wall one of his central campaign promises in 2016, saying it was needed to curb irregular immigration, drug trafficking and other crimes.

Democrats, who took control of the House last month from Trump’s fellow Republicans, oppose a wall, calling it ineffective, expensive and immoral.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies