As conference committee looks for a deal, Palazzo supports $5.7 billion wall figure

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The federal government is open but that could change in a matter of weeks. A select group of lawmakers, making up the Border Security Conference Committee, has to strike an agreement in the coming weeks to avoid another partial shutdown. During their first public meeting Wednesday, lawmakers sat around a table and played nice.

“When meetings will happen behind closed doors they are likely to be less cordial, less formal. But I do think that members from both parties, both chambers are serious about trying to work something out,” said Molly Reynolds from the Brookings Institution.

Reynolds says for this special committee, consisting of 17 bipartisan senators and House members, the issue at hand is funding the Department of Homeland Security. The most contentious topic surrounds how much money, if any, should go toward President Donald Trump’s coveted border wall. Reynolds thinks both parties will find a way to spin a victory out of these negotiations.

“Folks will want to find a way to reach a deal that allows everyone to claim that it was a victory so it’s a real win-win scenario,” said Reynolds.

Win-win in this situation also means both sides will give something up. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) who sits on the committee says he is prepared to make concessions so all parties involved can move forward.

“We have an opportunity to show everyone that we can govern and that we can come up with solutions,” said Palazzo.

Right now, Palazzo is on board with President Trump’s ask for $5.7 billion for a wall. Palazzo says the committee plans to bring in experts to talk about what is actually going on at the border. He wants lawmakers to travel to the border to see for themselves what is necessary for security. Then come up with final numbers.

“Is (President Donald Trump) going to get you know the $5.7 billion for the wall? I mean…probably not. So the question is how much is he going to get for the defensive barriers that are extremely important for securing the border?” said Palazzo.

Congress and the president have until February 15th to come to an agreement before partial funding for the government runs out.