Trump Says No Spending Deal Without Wall or ‘Physical Barrier’

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said any border security deal with Congress must include funding for "a wall or physical barrier" on the southern U.S. border, as a bipartisan panel starts negotiations following the longest federal government shutdown on record.

“If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!” Trump said Wednesday on Twitter.

While Trump’s tweet might be an effort to reassure his base that he’s not backing away from his campaign promise for a border wall, Trump’s choice of wording might signal he’s open to fencing instead of a wall, a stance that would be more amenable to Democrats.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy lent credence to the possibility that Republicans could endorse that route when he told Fox News on Wednesday morning that distinctions between a wall and fencing were just semantics.

"I don’t care what they call it, but it has to be a barrier," McCarthy said.

Congress begins a new round of formal border security talks today with the same political obstacles separating both parties and little more than two weeks to reach a deal to avoid another funding lapse. Trump’s allies are already suggesting additional provisions -- such as a debt limit increase -- that have tangled up discussions in the past.

Building a wall along the border was a central theme of Trump’s presidential campaign, when he said Mexico was going to pay for the barrier, a promise he’s now walked back. The issue was a prime driver for the five-week partial shutdown that ended Friday, with Trump acquiescing to Democrats’ resistance to calls to include $5.7 billion in taxpayer funding to build a wall.

As part of that agreement, a congressional conference committee is studying border security upgrades.

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