Shelby: Dems ‘want to cap the number of dangerous criminals that ICE can detain’
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) updated the American people on the ongoing government funding and border security negotiations, lamenting that Democrats “want to cap the number of dangerous criminals that ICE can detain, putting the safety of the American [people] in jeopardy.”
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, the senior senator from Alabama discussed the state of negotiations, with a quickly approaching deadline of Friday threatening another partial government shutdown if the bicameral conference committee of legislative leaders cannot reach a compromise that President Donald Trump is also willing to sign off on.
Shelby, the vice chair of the committee, has been leading the negotiating charge as a voice of reason. He was joined on the popular Fox News program by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who is considered a relatively moderate Democrat from a red state.
Shelby began his appearance by announcing that negotiations are once again at an impasse.
“[T]alks have stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning, because time’s ticking away,” he said. “But we’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE – that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S., and they want a cap on them. We don’t want a cap on that.”
Shelby continued to say that they have also not reached an agreement on the number of dollars to go specifically towards a physical barrier – or wall – on the southern border. This component is considered of major importance in the negotiations, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) vowing not to give Trump any money for his signature campaign promise.
“We’re working, and we’re hoping we can get there,” Shelby added of trying to reach a compromise on the wall funding. “We’ve got to get fluid again, we’ve got to start movement.”
This came after Shelby met with Trump in the White House Thursday. Immediately following this “positive” meeting, Shelby told reporters that the period between then and Monday was especially crucial to reaching a deal in time.
“The president urged me to get to yes,” he said at the time.
However, things have hit a snag, as Shelby explained to Wallace. The senator did emphasize to the Fox News host that Trump was indeed being “very reasonable” in being flexible on the dollar amount he originally wanted for the wall.
“Our talks with the president are confidential, but I came out of the meeting thinking we could make a deal with the Democrats if they’re willing to meet us halfway,” Shelby outlined. “Secondly, the president basically in the conversation gave us some latitude to talk and that’s what we’re trying to do to get to yes today.”
Tester then said that negotiations have high and low points, and the current stall was to be expected at some time in the process. He also praised Shelby’s leadership and efforts to bring the two sides together for the betterment of the American people.
“Chairman Shelby is correct,” Tester added. “Time is of the essence. We need to move forward. We need to keep our eyes on this.”
However, when asked, Tester would not answer why Democrats want to cap the number of detention beds ICE can utilize.
ICYMI: Today on @FoxNewsSunday, I discussed how our homeland security funding negotiations have stalled. Dems want to cap the number of dangerous criminals that ICE can detain, putting the safety of the American ppl in jeopardy – which I strongly oppose. https://t.co/EXQN3GRwbr
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) February 10, 2019
Responding to the host’s next question, Shelby then confirmed that Monday was being viewed as a pretty firm deadline by negotiation leaders, with the government set to partially shut down again Friday at midnight.
“Chris, that is a deadline,” he said of Monday. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there. I’m hoping we’ll get there.”
Shelby explained that a deal needs to be reached with time to spare for legislative machinations and voting before Friday, as both the Senate and House have rules in place that can take days to pass bills.
While he acknowledged that there are options for Trump and for Congress if they cannot reach a deal in the necessary amount of time, Shelby stressed that these options are less desirable.
“[S]hort of a deal, they’re not good options,” he summarized.
Shelby concluded the interview by reinforcing the urgency of the negotiations.
“I don’t think [Trump] is misleading or exaggerating,” the senator emphasized. “We’ve got real problems along our border. We’ve got millions of illegal immigrants in this country. We’ve had a lot of drug dealers, gangs and everything come across that border. He’s not exaggerating it. We’ve got to secure the border. We’ve made progress, but we can do better than this. I think we owe it to the American people.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn