‘Wild card’ remains in effort to avoid another shutdown

MOLINE, Illinois -- One week after a compromise temporarily ended the nation's longest federal government shutdown, members of the Iowa and Illinois delegations expressed guarded optimism that a budget deal can be reached.

For one, both Republican and Democratic members of Congress agree the shutdown was not good politics.

“Shutting down the government is not a smart thing to do,” Iowa senator Charles Grassley told reporters last week.

“I hope we all learned that shutting down the government is not a good recourse (just) because we have policy differences," echoed Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois.

Members of Congress have exactly two weeks to negotiate a deal to keep government funded and running.

A group of eight Republicans and nine Democrats, known as the conference committee, is tasked with hammering out a deal that will then be brought to the full House and the full Senate, before heading to President Donald Trump.

"Right now we have the conference committee, that means we have Democrats and Republicans sitting together to work out the differences. So that's farther along than we were last time," Bustos said.
She said Democrats have presented a plan that includes hiring more customs officials and improving technology at ports of entry.
"That's where 90 percent of the illegal drugs that come to our country come from," she said, adding that to border agents needed technology to scan every car.

"I know for a fact, I've been to the border, it's a small percent of what comes in illegally in cars and trucks that we can actually detect. We gotta have better detection, technology, more border patrol agents," Iowa representative Dave Loebsack told WQAD.

Democrats have long insisted there is no crisis at the border and the drama over the border wall takes away from the issues they say are more important.

"I would like to get us back to the things we should be talking about like infrastructure," Loebsack said. "We've gotta work on the issues that matter to people in my district, and that's issues that relate to jobs and the economy," he added.

Lawmakers say they're optimistic they can negotiate a compromise.

"I think it's going to be very, very easy to reach an agreement," Grassley said. "Both Democrats and Republicans have built fences. So if Democrats will come to the table to do what they've done in the past, I think it's going to be very easy to reach an agreement.

But he added, "I don't know if there is willingness to do it."

"I am confident," Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth said.

"We've got Dick Durban who's on the conference committee and you know that Senator Durbin is someone who's very good at compromising and negotiating. On their side they have Senator (Roy) Blunt of Missouri who has been very approachable."

But there's always a wild card.

"The question will be if the president will go ahead and agree with them if they do reach a compromise," Loebsack said.

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