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Congressional negotiators have a handshake deal to avoid another shutdown



Congressional negotiators have kind of, sort of reached a border security deal.

After several hours of meetings on Monday, top appropriators in the House and Senate emerged from a closed-door session to announce that they had reached a funding agreement “in principle.”

“Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to be putting all the details together, and that’s all we can tell you now,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), according to NBC News.

The tentative agreement comes as yet another government shutdown deadline looms this Friday, and while it includes money for border barriers, it doesn’t contain any funds for a wall. As a congressional aide told Vox, the deal offers $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new border fencing, as well as funding for 40,520 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, a reduction from the current levels.

Interestingly enough, the funding for border barriers is actually less than the $1.6 billion in fencing funding offered by a bipartisan Senate agreement last year. And it’s far less than the $5.7 billion President Trump has demanded for a wall in recent requests.

The deal does not include a cap on detention beds used for interior enforcement, a previous Democratic ask. It also contains an additional $1.7 billion in funding dedicated to other resources like border security technology, NBC reports.

The details of the agreement are still being sketched out by lawmakers, with the final bill text expected later this week. While Democrats are likely to herald the agreement as a win since it doesn’t contain explicit wall money, Republicans appear poised to do the same, with one GOP source telling Politico that some of the barrier funding could still go toward a wall.

The ultimate bill package is set to include some more specifics and will contain all seven outstanding funding bills, which cover nine federal departments including Transportation, Agriculture, and, of course, Homeland Security. It’s the product of intensive talks between House and Senate Appropriations heads Shelby, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX).

Once congressional leaders hammer out all the details, the main question that remains is whether President Trump will sign it.

What comes next

The next day or so will be focused on fleshing out the final funding package.

After the text of the actual spending bills is complete, both the House and the Senate will have to approve the bills and send them to the president’s desk in advance of this Friday’s deadline in order to avert another shutdown.

Trump’s approval of the deal is a major wild card.

In the past, Trump has said he’d veto any spending bill that doesn’t contain wall funding, though he hasn’t indicated how he’ll act regarding this offer just yet. Some right-wing lawmakers like the House Freedom Caucus’s Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) have already expressed their concern with the agreement, which could influence how Trump responds.

Shelby reportedly signaled Monday that he was operating with leeway from the White House, though Trump offered few clues about his feelings on the deal during a rally in El Paso, Texas. “We probably have some good news, but who knows,” he said during the rally. “We need the wall, and it has to be built.”

As always, he was light on the details of just how this would happen.

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Vox Sentences: The pope will listen to survivors




Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The Vatican prepares to talk about the sexual abuse of minors; Australia is hit with a cyberattack.

“The Protection of Minors in the Church”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • The Vatican prepared Monday for a Thursday meeting called “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” which will address the long and destructive history of sexual abuse of children by officials of the church. Pope Francis and presidents from international bishops’ conferences will gather for four days to meet with abuse survivors and increase transparency. [NYT / Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo]
  • Boston Archbishop Seán O’Malley, one of the few Americans who advise Pope Francis, says the church still lacks a procedure for how to deal with bishops accused of abuse. And addressing those wrongs is only complicated by the fact that most of the cases still waiting for justice occurred decades ago. [Atlantic / Emma Green]
  • The Vatican took decisive action over the weekend against a cleric it had long shielded: ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The former archbishop of Washington became the highest-ranking American cardinal to be defrocked after he was found guilty of abusing minors. McCarrick was made cardinal in 2001, despite the church knowing of accusations against him. [Vox / Amanda Sakuma]
  • On the same day the summit starts, an explosive new book by a French journalist will be released, alleging that the Catholic Church is “one of the biggest gay communities in the world.” In the Closet of the Vatican could be the first reliable account of gay members of the clergy, which has some members of the church worried it could distract from the meeting’s goal: addressing the abuse of minors. [CNN / Daniel Burke]
  • Gay Catholic priests have long been terrified to come out, fearing repercussions from the church, which almost always controls a priest’s housing, health insurance, and retirement pension. The Times spoke to two dozen anonymously, who said the environment is only getting worse, with homosexuality increasingly being blamed for clergy abuse of young boys. [NYT / Elizabeth Dias]
  • Relations between the Vatican and US church leaders like O’Malley on abuse cases are becoming more and more tense. O’Malley was excluded from organizing this week’s summit on sex abuse, despite his top position on the commission for the protection of minors. The Vatican thinks American leadership is going too far — even in the practice of publishing accused clergy members’ names. [WSJ / Francis X. Rocca]

Australia reckons with a cyberattack

  • An unidentified foreign government is likely responsible for a hack of Australia’s major political parties and its parliament’s computer network, according to a statement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday. [NYT / Jamie Tarabay]
  • The Australian government was already investigating an attack on the parliament that occurred early February when it became aware, 10 days later, that the Liberal, Labor, and National parties had also been breached. [Al Jazeera]
  • Australia’s federal elections are coming up in May, but Morrison assured the country there had not been any electoral interference — even as the Australian Cyber Security Centre admitted it did not know what information had been stolen. [BBC News]
  • “A sophisticated state actor” is the culprit, according to Morrison, and many policy experts are pointing to China or Russia. The attack draws attention to the potential meddling (by at least one of those countries) in the 2016 US elections, and how this could be repeated. [TechCrunch / Jon Russell]
  • It’s also possible the responsible organization tried to mimic China to encourage Australian and foreign officials to point fingers. China has denied any role in the attack. [The Verge / Jon Porter]


  • Past presidents like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have earned their place on national monuments — but history has shown that no president was a perfect leader. [NBC News / Ethan Sacks]
  • Public records about the Interior Department could be harder to access if a new rule the department has proposed is adopted. Under the rule, Interior would have more control over what information goes public and could limit how many documents one individual or an organization may view per month. [NPR / Nate Hegyi]
  • President Trump is expected to heighten support for Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela on Monday. Pressure for President Nicolás Maduro to step down is mounting from the US, which has targeted sanctions against Venezuela’s valuable oil industry. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond]
  • Only one of the current Democratic presidential hopefuls is a heterosexual white man. Others may declare, but they all could have trouble accessing in-demand campaign talent and media attention — not to mention widespread support — as women and other minority candidates appeal to voters. [Politico / Bill Scher]
  • Millions of Nigerians were disappointed on Saturday when a last-minute decision delayed national presidential elections. Without an absentee voting system, many Nigerian citizens who had traveled or planned to travel to their home districts had to change plans when they found out they wouldn’t be voting. Nigeria’s current president, Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking his second consecutive term. [NYT/ Dionne Searcey and Emmanuel Akinwotu]


“What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.” [Excerpt from God Help the Child by Toni Morrison, who turns 88 years old today]

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We work in diverse places. We live in segregated ones. [YouTube / Alvin Chang]

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