This Week on the Hill: Funding Negotiations Continue as Friday Deadline Looms

Congress will return to Washington today as lawmakers scramble to fund the government ahead of Friday’s deadline. Despite optimism heading into the weekend about reaching a border security deal and funding the government past the Feb. 15 deadline, negotiators of the bipartisan border security Conference Committee indicated Sunday that the talks have hit an impasse over immigration detention policy and the total funding allocation. The talks have reportedly shifted away from a broader deal and toward a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the government funded and provide negotiators with additional time.

While border security negotiations continue, it remains to be seen whether President Trump will sign a funding bill that does not include his border wall request. The President has criticized the Conference Committee’s negotiations as a “waste of time,” stating he would either shut the government down again or declare a national emergency that would circumvent Congress and tap into military construction funds for the wall. Meanwhile, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said yesterday that he “absolutely cannot” rule out the possibility of another funding lapse, pinning the blame on Democrats for failing to act on President Trump’s border wall request.

On the floor, Senators are set to resume consideration of the comprehensive federal lands package (S.47) that would reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Following passage of the lands package, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has queued up a confirmation vote on William Barr to be Attorney General of the United States. In the House, lawmakers will begin their legislative work week with consideration of five suspension bills out of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.