Trump vows to build Mexico border wall as deal reached to avoid US government shutdown

Republican and Democrat negotiators reached a finance deal late on Monday to prevent another shutdown of the US government – even as Donald Trump threatened their progress by insisting he would “build the wall anyway”.

The agreement reached by politicians from both sides of Congress included nearly $1.4bn (£1bn) for 55 miles of new fencing along the US-Mexico border.

The construction will follow existing designs, likely with metal slats, and would be considerably less of an undertaking than the 215 miles of concrete wall for which the White House demanded $5.7bn (£4bn) in December.

That demand, which Mr Trump refused to budge on, led to the longest partial shutdown of the US government in history. More than 800,000 federal employees went unpaid over a period of 35 days, postponing the State of the Union address and hurting Mr Trump’s poll numbers.

A bipartisan group of House and Senate politicians had “reached an agreement in principle”, said Senate Appropriations Committee chair Richard Shelby.

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Trump led the House chamber in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first lady Melania

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He also appealed to his political base, both with his harsh rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the “late-term abortion of children”

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Women from both political parties wore white outfits tonight at the behest of the Democratic Womens Working Group to honor the legacy of women’s suffrage in the United States

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He devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly distanced themselves from the White House

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Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders holds his notes

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1/22 Nancy Pelosi’s ‘sarcastic’ clapping stole Trump’s thunder

For many the president’s speech was overshadowed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s applause after his call for political unity, which many interpreted as “sarcastic”

AFP/Getty

2/22 Trump issues ominous threat over investigations as he rails against immigration and abortion

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AFP/Getty

3/22

Congresswomen, dressed in white in tribute to the women’s suffrage movement, pose for a photo as they arrive

AFP/Getty Images

4/22

The 72-year-old harkened back to American achievements, celebrating the moon landing as astronaut Buzz Aldrin looked on from the audience and heralding the liberation of Europe from the Nazis

AFP/Getty

5/22

He also led the House chamber in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first lady Melania Trump. “Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history. What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?” Mr Trump said

Getty

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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – dressed in white in an act of solidarity with other women – declined to join a standing ovation for Donald Trump despite his purported call for “unity”

Reuters

7/22

The president ticked through a litany of issues with crossover appeal, including boosting infrastructure, lowering prescription drug costs and combating childhood cancer

Getty

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Republican Veronica Escobar reacts as President Trump claims that El Paso, Texas, has become safer due to a wall along the border with Mexico

Reuters

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Despite no one working in the White House Office of National Aids Policy, and having sacking his HIV advisory council last year, Mr Trump pledged to inject funds to stop the spread of the disease in America by 2030

Getty Images

10/22

“Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach,” the president said. “Together, we will defeat Aids in America and beyond.” he said

Reuters

11/22

Trump led the House chamber in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first lady Melania

Reuters

12/22

He also appealed to his political base, both with his harsh rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the “late-term abortion of children”

EPA

13/22

Women from both political parties wore white outfits tonight at the behest of the Democratic Womens Working Group to honor the legacy of women’s suffrage in the United States

AFP/Getty

14/22

He devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly distanced themselves from the White House

EPA

15/22

Trump greets Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, alongside Vice President Mike Pence

AFP/Getty

16/22

US First lady Melania Trump (left) with Grace Eline and Joshua Trump, special guests of President Donald Trump

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17/22

Trump announced details of a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, outlining a summit in Vietnam starting on 27 February

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18/22

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” he said

AFP/Getty

19/22

Getty

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Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch laugh

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President Trump greets lawmakers after delivering his second State of the Union address

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Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders holds his notes

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Nita Lowey, his counterpart in the House, said their “staffs are just working out the details”, which would be announced in full on Tuesday.

A collapse of the negotiations would have imperilled another upcoming round of budget talks that are required to prevent steep spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

Mr Trump travelled to El Paso, Texas, for a campaign-style rally on Monday night focused on immigration and border issues.

He has been adamant that Congress approve money for a wall along the Mexican border, though he no longer repeats his 2016 mantra that Mexico will pay for it, and he took to the stage as politicians back in Washington were announcing their breakthrough.

“They said that progress is being made with this committee,” Mr Trump told his audience, referring to the congressional bargainers. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”

The agreement includes increases for new technologies such as advanced screening at border entry points, humanitarian aid sought by Democrats, and additional customs officers.

And while Republicans conceded ground on the funding for a wall, the Democrats softened their position on demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities.

Asked if Mr Trump would back the deal, Mr Shelby said: “We believe from our dealings with them and the latitude they’ve given us, they will support it. We certainly hope so.”

Source : The Independent

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