Donald Trump.
Donald Trump.

Washington — Republican and Democratic members of Congress will open negotiations in search of a deal to fund the government and tackle border security, including the construction of a wall demanded by US President Donald Trump. 

The team of negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate have less than three weeks to come up with legislation to appropriate funds. The bill needs to be one that the president will accept before money runs out again on February 15 or the government faces the threat of another partial shutdown.

Last week Trump agreed to temporarily reopen the federal government after a record-long 35-day shutdown even without the $5.7bn that he had demanded from Congress to build the wall. Trump has made the long-promised border wall a key campaign promise and pledged that Mexico would pay for it.

He threatened to shut the government down again if Congress cannot come up with a satisfactory deal, or said he would turn to a national emergency declaration to get the wall built, a potential move that both Republicans and Democrats have vowed to fight.

Trump’s fellow Republicans, who control the Senate, had stood by the president but faced increasing pressure as the effects  of the shutdown spread and public sentiment soured. Democrats, who took over the House this month after the shutdown began, remained unified in their opposition to Trump’s wall.

Some top Democrats have said they are open to paying for fencing or other physical border barriers in some areas, but not a wall along the entire length of the southern border.

In an early morning tweet on Wednesday, Trump warned legislators that they must consider his wall. “If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are wasting their time!” he wrote.

Even if congressional negotiators forge a deal, it is unclear whether Trump would accept it. Negotiators must wrap up their work around February 10 in order to pass legislation in time to meet the February 15 deadline.

Reuters