Disagreements on Border Security Threaten Spending Negotiations While Shutdown Looms

The final government spending package to avoid a partial government shutdown later in the week ran into last-minute hiccups over the weekend because of lingering disagreements on how to address the surge of illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border.

Legislators were expected to initially release legislative text for the six final appropriations bills Sunday afternoon to schedule a vote this week before government funding is set to expire for a plethora of agencies Friday evening right after midnight. But, a dispute over funding for border security has threatened progress on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security — raising the risk of a partial government showdown.

By the end of last week, congressional negotiators were close to finalizing a deal on the last appropriations bills. The bills include the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, Justice, and Science, Interior and Environment, State and Foreign Operations, Financial Services and General Government, and Labor, Health, and Human Services.

A source familiar with the process said five of those appropriations bills have had negotiations completed and bills finalized. However, lingering disagreements on the legislation to fund the DHS have delayed the release of the entire package.

The senior Republican leadership aide said the White House threatened to shut down a DHS funding continuing resolution on Saturday.

“Republicans have always said we will provide all the resources necessary for enforcement, but not a blank check to simply ‘manage’ people into the country and bail out sanctuary cities,” said a senior GOP aide Sunday. “Republicans have been clear and consistent that more appropriations are necessary for border enforcement, which Democrats had consistently objected to. On this front, the House bill provided significantly more than the Senate bill, and House offers throughout the bicameral negotiation have done the same.”

House GOP has urged the White House to join negotiations

Resultingly, House Republicans have urged the White House to join talks between congressional Democrats and Republicans, emphasizing the negotiations’ precarious nature. The GOP has accused the White House of failing to communicate with congressional Dems, which, according to one aide, “has placed us on the brink of a shutdown.”

Sources familiar with the discussions say that headway was made on DHS negotiations on Sunday afternoon and that there is a way forward. According to senior Republican leadership, however, the text isn’t expected until Monday. 

“House Republicans will continue to work in good faith to reach consensus on the appropriations bills that reprioritizes DHS funding towards enforcing border and immigration laws,” said a spokesperson for House Speaker Mike Johnson, Raj Shah, in a statement.

The government is set to enter a partial shutdown if a spending deal isn’t made by the end of the week that will pass the Senate and House and be signed by President Joe Biden.

But if negotiations keep failing over DHS funding, legislators might need to turn to another spending measure as a stopgap—something negotiators on both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition to.