President Donald Trump and GOP legislators are withholding their approval as top congressional staffers and leaders work behind closed doors to write critical details of the 2019 spending plan for border security and the border wall.
The bill is promised for release on Wednesday, giving congressional staffers plenty of time to sneak important policies into the bill.
The vote is slated for Thursday, giving GOP staffers and various advocates some time to find and publicize possible “poison pills.”
“We’ll be getting it and we’ll be looking for land mines [in the text]—because you could have that,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “It’s been known to happen before to people. But we have not gotten it yet.”
“The president wants to see what the final package looks like and he’ll make a decision at that point,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News. Legislators are “still tinkering and making edits to that legislation and once we see what the final piece looks like the president can make that decision.”
The draft may be released late Wednesday. Legislators say it will include $1.37 billion for a border wall and does not include rules to block deportations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
However, Trump indicated that he wants to sign the deal, giving Democratic staffers more leeway to insert damaging legislation into the huge spending package before it is released to the public. he told reporters:
“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing. I think a point was made with the last shutdown; people realized how bad the border is, how unsafe the border is. I think a lot of good points were made, but I don’t want to see another one—there’s no reason for it. We’re going to look at the legislation when it comes and I’ll make a determination then.
It’ll also have technology. It’ll have drones, it’ll have everything else we have. If you look at the other elements—ICE funding, will be complete. We have other things happening which people aren’t talking about. We’ve got a lot of funds for a lot of other things. But with a wall they want to be stingy. We have options that most people don’t really understand.
Reformers fear the legislation will include text which expands the H-2B program to provide more wage-cutting seasonal labor and bar implementation of the “credible fear” reforms set in place by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
GOP Rep. Tim Graves, a member of the 17-member panel, suggested the draft should be released early so it can be carefully studied before a vote.
GOP GA Rep & border security conferee Tom Graves says he is undecided on the bill now: I need to review the text. We need time to digest it. It’s not a bad moment to hit the pause button.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 13, 2019
“We should have a majority of the Republicans,” predicted Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “And it could be more.”
But, Flores cautioned, “it’s very conceptual” because “we don’t have anything to look at.”
“There’s a long list of all kinds of things in there,” the New York Democrat [Rep. Nita Lowey] said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Anything could stop the deal at this late stage.”
A statement from GOP Rep. Mark Meadows said, “The conference report is projected to be thousands of pages long and was negotiated behind closed doors. We believe that Members should be given enough time to read it before voting on it, so they can decide whether or not a better deal can be negotiated.”