Democrats optimistic they can reach broader border deal with Trump

Having secured deal to end shutdown, Pelosi and Schumer look ahead to future talks

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conduct a new conference on Friday about a continuing resolution to re-open the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conduct a new conference on Friday about a continuing resolution to re-open the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:55pm

As Congress began considering the deal to end the partial government shutdown, Democratic leaders said they were optimistic not just about the current deal but also about avoiding another showdown as they look at a new Feb. 15 deadline. 

“The longest shutdown in American history will finally end today. The president has agreed to our request to open government and then debate border security,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said. 

“I think we will have a very productive time in a very short period of time to come to some conclusion,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The deal involves the House and Senate forming a conference committee on the annual Homeland Security spending bill. Appropriators from both parties and both chambers will have three weeks before the deadline set by the Feb. 15 CR to come to agreement on how money within the $49 billion measure should be spent. 

‘No one should ever underestimate the speaker’: Democrats claim victory after shutdown agreement

Trump made clear Friday that he wants any agreement Congress reaches to include funding for a “powerful wall or steel barrier” along portions of the southern border. 

Pelosi signaled that Democrats’ opposition to the wall will not change in the next three weeks. 

“Have I not been clear on the wall?” the California Democrat said. “I’ve been very clear.”

And in case that wasn’t clear enough, Schumer communicated Democrats’ position more directly. 

“Democrats are against the wall, but we agree on many things,” the New York Democrat said, citing proposals like enhancing technology at the border, security ports of entry and stopping drug traffic. “That bodes well” for finding agreement, he said.

Republican congressional leaders were also optimistic about the border security funding talks bearing fruit.

“If we get into conference, especially with Democrats now saying that they would support the wall, I think we can come out and find common ground,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “I think three weeks gives us the time to do that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was more hopeful than optimistic.  

“Hopefully, we’ll have good faith negotiations over the next three weeks to try to resolve our differences on the best way to secure the border,” he told reporters.  

Despite all the good vibes coming from congressional leaders, Pelosi wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Trump may force another shutdown if he doesn’t get his way by Feb. 15.

“I can’t assure the public on anything the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic,” the speaker said. “I see every challenge and crisis as an opportunity, an opportunity to do the right thing for the American people.”

Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report. 

Watch: Trump warns of another shutdown if Congress doesn’t reach a new deal by Feb. 15