Sen. Murphy Says Progress Being Made on Border Wall Funds

As a federal shutdown deadline looms next week, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chair Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Thursday that negotiators have made progress in talks on funding for the nation’s border wall.

According to The Hill, Murphy told reporters Thursday afternoon that border wall funding remains “one of the outstanding issues” negotiators are working out, as they attempt to complete an omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2022 by March 11.

Murphy’s subcommittee manages appropriations for border wall funds.

“We’ve made progress in the last 24 hours,” he said. “We were stuck for a little while, but we’ve been trading some constructive paper in the last 24 hours … I’m hopeful that we will not be the sticking point.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, ranking Republican on the appropriations subcommittee, told The Hill that funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has also been a stumbling block in the bipartisan spending discussions.

“How much detention beds, that’s always a bone of contention,” Capito told the news outlet on Wednesday, while talking about negotiation challenges.

In his budget request for fiscal year 2022, President Joe Biden called for an end to border wall funding and, last year, Democrats unveiled plans to rescind nearly $2 billion in previously allocated funding for the project.  

Senate Democrats have looked to repurpose the funds for border security technology, including IT modernization efforts, expanded train capacity for Customs and Border Protection personnel and environmental mitigation efforts.

“It is because you’ve got, you know, multi-year money left over from the Trump administration on the border wall,” Murphy said. “So, it is one of the outstanding issues, what we do with that money, but we’ve made progress on that.”

While he wouldn’t provide further details on where talks stood when asked by reporters, Murphy did say he thinks negotiators are “getting closer on everything,” The Hill reports.

With roughly a week to pass a spending package under the current deadline, lawmakers risk passing another stopgap bill if they cannot come to an agreement. Congress has had to pass three such short-term bills for the current fiscal year to avert a shutdown and give negotiators time to finalize spending talks.

Murphy’s panel is one of 12 Senate appropriation subcommittees trying to finish their parts of an expansive spending package to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, which marks the end of the fiscal year.

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