Top US lawmakers to resume border talks, avert shutdown

The personalized gavel of House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), is seen at the start of their first public negotiating session over the US federal government shutdown and border security on Capitol Hill in Washington, US January 30, 2019. (Reuters pic)

WASHINGTON: The top four Democratic and Republican negotiators in the US Congress on border security funding plan to meet on Monday in an attempt to reach a deal that would avert another partial government shutdown by a Friday deadline.

House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican, and two other senior lawmakers will attend the meeting, according to a congressional aide.

Negotiations broke down during the weekend over funding for immigrant detention beds and physical barriers that would be funded along the US-Mexico border.

The lawmakers hope to reach an agreement on Monday to allow time for the legislation to pass the House and Senate and get signed by Republican President Donald Trump by Friday, when funding for the Department of Homeland Security and several other federal agencies expires.

Trump agreed on Jan 25 to end a 35-day partial US government shutdown without getting the US$5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a long-promised wall along the border with Mexico. Democrats oppose a wall, calling it ineffective, expensive and immoral.

Instead, a three-week spending deal was reached with congressional leaders to give lawmakers time to resolve their disagreements about how to address border security.