Democrats, President Trump, White House discussed on Fresh Air


From NPR news. It's all things considered. I'm Audie Cornish. And Mary Louise Kelley groundhog day was nine days ago. You would not know that from the state of play here in Washington today where Democrats and Republicans are fighting over border security scrambling to put together a deal that the president will sign and racing against the clock to prevent a government shutdown. Again, the president is rallying supporters tonight in El Paso, Texas. Congressional negotiators have been huddling trying to reach a breakthrough. We'll hear more on those efforts from Capitol Hill in a moment. First, let's hear the view from the White House. And for that we bring in White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, mister Mulvaney. Welcome. Ray lewis. Thanks very much. I I asked you to put a number on the chances that these negotiations will produce a deal by the end of the week that the president will actually sign would that number be more than zero. But. It's a low bar, but it can only get better it is. And the reason I'm sort of. I don't know the best way to answer. Your question is that there's all sorts of different kinds of deals. There's a deal that would be a compromise that everybody could agree to and say, okay, we gave a little bit on on something over here. The Democrats gave something over there. And we all sort of are equally happy and unhappy at the same time, which is a nature of a compromise. And we signed that could also be a circumstance where Congress's completely incapable of getting anything and you end up with what's called a continuing resolution for either a week or a year, and it gets signed to simply because nothing else could be done. Both of those things could be signed. So the answer to your question to both of those would be yes. But that doesn't mean that one of them is not better than the other. Since that. We're hearing from congressional negotiators is that things are looking less rosy than they were on Friday that the talks are stalled is that also the sense from the White House. I think that's a fair statement and in. Here's what happened, and I don't know where this came from. But somehow in the last twenty four to thirty. Six hours. The debate has changed and moved away from the border wall the border barrier, the border fence, whatever you wanna call it. And onto the issue of how many people that immigrations and customs enforcement is permitted to detain in their law enforcement capacity and Democrats want to put a statutory cap on that to limit the number of people that ice candidate in the nation. This is the issue over the the number of ice detention beds. Ended the bed is a person has to when we detain them. They have to sleep someplace at night. So the measure is the number of beds. So we have that equates to the number of people, we can detain Democrats would argue that putting a cap on the number of those beds would would force the administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who've pose real security threats and not law abiding immigrants. But since you, and I are unlikely to solve the issue right now. Let me focus you on this. You were on the record over the weekend. Saying you cannot rule out the possibility of another shutdown. Would you enlarge on that? How willing is the White House to go there to actually put another shutdown like the thirty five day one. We all just live through on the table. Sure. And there's two answers that one is sort of philosophical about the role of the executive branch of government vis-a-vis, the legislative and the other one is a little bit more detailed and technical. So let's deal with the first one. I about the separation of powers of a shutdown. Technically is always on the table for any executive as soon as the president says, I'll never shut the government down. What they're technically doing is giving up the right to veto a Bill, and what they're saying is all sign anything that you put in front of me because I have taken a shot on off the table in most case why if I could just push there, why not take it off the table and say, look, whatever you guys come up with we'll live with it because it's not worth putting the country through this again. Well, but what if they come up with something again, you're talking about a Bill? I don't know how many this is seven bills put together we were talking about the, but is actually six other pieces of government that are not funded. So you're talking about a Bill, that's at least several hundred pages. If not several thousand, but he's got serious Republican negotiators there. Do you think they're gonna come up that they would sign off on something that would be so unpalatable? So the president it is theoretically possible. And that's why I said the shutdown could never be off the table for the now, we're moving into the second half of my first answer, which is that it gets a little bit more detail. Yes. So put aside the philosophical concerns about the separation of powers, and now here you are in the discussion about how we're going to fund a border security DHS all the other parts of government that are on funded treasury the White House itself. And if the president got something on his desk that contained a bunch of things that he simply could not agree to then he has to retain the right to veto. How does holding a campaign rally in Paso tonight? Help solve the impasse to you. I think we get a chance to to shed some light on the importance of border security. The story of El Paso has been told from both sides of the equation now for about a week. A campaign rally with the president's supporters the base that's who's going to turn out. How does that help advance bipartisan negotiations? I don't I don't think it hurts it finest stretch the imagination with the president still has the ability to go out and speak to people directly fact when you speak to people directly does extraordinarily. Well, we found out today there raspy has his approval Rating's above fifty percent for the first time in a long time. I think that the highest they've ever been at fifty two percents of when the president speaks directly to people. He does. Well, and his message gets across just like Democrats are speaking to their base at the same time. It's how politicians communicate with people changing gears are in the minute or so that we have left the president's private schedule keeps leaking including the amount of time that he spends in so-called executive time you have sowed have Oude to find the leaker this week. How you going about that there's certain things we can do to charge find out who accesses certain documents and so forth. Just it's the same thing that everybody would do at any company when they're trying to find out who's leaking information. And really, it's. Not because the information is that sensitive the the material that was leaked out with something that's very close to the public budget that we show. It's just that the effort of this person went to collect this data for thirty days. The president has been tweeting about this today. He tweeted now, quote, no president has ever worked harder than me. Why is this a subject that his executive time that he is that he's sensitive about? I think he's being accused of not working, which I think anybody would be sensitive, especially when you've had such a sex productive time in office. We could go down another time has to be accomplishments. We've had in the first two years of the administration. But I think he's offended by the fact that people don't think he works when he's starting at six o'clock in the morning and going to eleven o'clock at night. We will leave it there. Acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. We appreciate it. Thanks for your time. Thank you. And NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell was listening along to that conversation. She's over on Capitol Hill, and in a moment audio no you won't ask her about how things look from that into Pennsylvania Avenue. But Kelsey, I I wonder just quickly. What what struck you from from Mr. Malvinas responses, just then, you know, I think it's really interesting that he turned to this idea that they're still talking and that he's offering a couple of different options for over the way, this could end that I think is a sign that he did the White House is still giving congress time to negotiate time to work something out, and they're kind of staying out of the way of congress. And that's not always what the White House has done. So we will wait and see if that holds for the rest of this week. But I think that the White House is willing to let them have the space to do. This is a very different place than we were in say the last time we were having this conversation back in December. Although he did put the when I asked him Preston you there on the number that he would put on that chances for success. It was somewhere north of zeros. Kelsey, Mick Mulvaney, also mentioned the issue of detention beds. I want to talk about this because in the border security negotiations which we've been talking about right? They have until Friday before the government funding runs out again. But this issue of the detention beds Mulvaney says is a new one for Democrats is this a new wrinkle in the talks. No, it really isn't particularly new to the messaging from Democrats. They have said actually since before these more recent negotiations even before the twentieth. Sixteen campaign. They've talked about wanting to curb what they call internal enforcement. Now that is what the immigration and customs enforcement agency does want somebody is in the United States. There are a lot of Democrats who think that ISIS been too aggressive, and they wanted to kind of make it harder for ice expansive in their crackdowns internal to the United States. Now. This is part of that. It may be that. This is something new that the White House is hearing about Democrats being very, Anna. Animated about. But this certainly isn't a new issue for Democrats in general, not just animated are Democrats willing to risk shut down this this limit, right. That's absolutely the question. Right. But they've been avoiding the question. They don't want to say, yes, we want to have a shutdown. What they're saying is there is still time for a deal, and they're saying that nobody wants a shutdown, and I think it's important to note that the talks did resume today, and they are trying to reach an agreement and that impasse. We heard about seems like it may have been fleeting because they are willing to go back to the table today. Now, if a deal isn't likely today it's possible to get to an agreement before the end of the week. That is the biggest question in the capital, and the one that we reporters have been asking the the prime negotiators all day. Now, they say that they don't have to have been deal today, but it would be helpful. Now, there's not a lot of time between a Monday and a Friday, particularly in congress, and we do know that they do often do a lot of their negotiating at the very last minute. But it takes awhile to get a Bill through the house. In the Senate and leaders have said in the past that today was the deadline. They wanted to see a conference report all signed. And you know, everybody saying that they're ready to go by the end of the day today. But it's possible that they could get something maybe done closer to the end of the week. It seems like just a week ago. The fight was over the president's demand from money to build a physical barrier wall. Right. Is that even an obstacle anymore? People still talking about it. Well, yeah, it could still be an obstacle. I think that as I've talked to people privately about where they think things are they think it's a balancing act so year about detention beds, but detention beds are a little bit of a trade off and Democrats are willing to give a little here and a little bit there. But Democrats have already been signaling for at least the past several days that they might be okay with some physical barriers likely fencing in some areas of the border, but it comes down to how much they can't accept and if the president can accept what they agree to, and if he can say that the fencing that Democrats are willing to support is the same thing as the wall, he's been promising. So it's a little bit. Policy, and it's a little bit politics. In the meantime, is there a backup plan? There is a bit of a backup plan. And I think we heard Mulvaney mentioned that there that he mentioned a continuing resolution, and that is the long Washington speak response for we could just do it for a little while and that they would extend a current spending levels for the you know, he mentioned potentially a week. But even that is controversial Democrats are saying that the current spending levels include a lot of money for detention beds. And that's not something that they're willing to sign off on and Republicans want to avoid a long term agreement because it essentially locks in spending without ever reaching a deal the longer that goes, the less likely, it is a deal ever happens at all. That's NPR's Kelsey Snell. Thanks for your reporting. Thank you. This is all things considered from NPR news. You're listening to NPR for the Monterey.

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