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Hoeven still hopeful government can avoid shutdown by Friday

Sen. John Hoeven

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven said he’s still hopeful legislators can avoid another government shutdown by reaching an agreement on border wall funding before the president’s Friday, Feb. 15, deadline.

“I mean, we had hoped to have this out today,” Hoeven said of the budget-in-progress on Monday.

But now reaching an agreement is about more than just a wall, after Democrats proposed limiting the number of beds Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can use for detainees arrested away from the border to 16,500, according to the Washington Post.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., tweeted on Sunday the cap will force the Trump Administration to “prioritize deportation for criminals and people posing real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants contributing to our country.”

Hoeven, who sits on a conference committee with Roybal-Allard to create a budget for both chambers to pass and the president to sign, said he and other Republican committee members aren’t willing to agree on the 16,500-bed limit.

“You can’t have a cap,” he said. “That’d be like saying, ‘No matter how many crimes are committed in Grand Forks, by various individuals, the police or the sheriff can only arrest a certain percentage of them.’ You can’t do that. You have to be able to use the beds you need.”

Democrats are also requesting the government reduce the total number of detention beds from 40,520 to 35,520, the Post said. The Trump Administration asked for 52,000 total beds in January.

“There has never been a limitation like this before,” Hoeven said.

As committee members take on this newest sticking point, Hoeven said the group will continue working toward an appropriate budget for building a wall.

President Donald Trump has asked Congress for $5.7 billion toward funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“That’s a number, as you’ve seen, we’re negotiating,” Hoeven said. “And obviously we’d like to get the $5.7 billion; we’ll get as much as we can, (because) ultimately, it’ll have to be something the administration will accept and sign.”

Hoeven said the committee communicates regularly with the Trump administration and that he believes they’re willing to negotiate.

“We’ve got to get Democrat leadership in the House … to move to a compromise position,” Hoeven said. “At this point, the president has been willing to compromise, is willing to compromise, we’ve got to get Democratic House leadership to move still.”

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., is a member of Hoeven’s committee and the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. He tweeted on Monday the detention bed request shouldn’t surprise anyone.

“Democrats have been fighting for more rational ICE detention policies for years,” Price wrote. “That these issues have been a focus of current negotiations should surprise nobody.”

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