Rep. Fleischmann “wants to get to yes” as conference committee tries to keep government afloat

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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. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) is a member of the committee who says he is prepared to bend so all parties involved can move forward.

“We’re all trying to find a way to ‘yes.’ To getting this done,” said Fleischmann.

He says he supports the president’s $5.7 billion request for a wall, but in the spirit of compromise and keeping federal doors open, he says he is willing to go lower.

“My figures would be different perhaps from some of my other colleagues, but that does not remove the ability to get to a figure or to an agreement that we all can agree on,” said Fleischmann.

Fleischmann says he expects the conference committee to reconvene next week. Congress and the president have until February 15th to come to an agreement before partial funding for the government runs out.