U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he is “very hopeful” an agreement will be struck between Congress and President Donald Trump on border security and immigration in time to avoid another partial government shutdown, but he predicts negotiations could run until the last minute of the Feb. 15 deadline.
“If you’re talking about it being today or tomorrow, (I feel) very pessimistic,” the Iowa Republican said of the prospect of a bipartisan agreement, as congressional leaders were set to hold hearings in Washington on additional money for border security.
“If you’re talking about it being almost the midnight hour of the final day before shutdown, I’ve got some confidence that they’re going to reach it.”
His remarks come as federal agencies still are returning to normal after an estimated 800,000 workers missed paychecks for five weeks amid the longest shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history. If lawmakers are unable to reach an agreement on those issues again by Feb. 15, the federal government could shut down again, putting talks back to square one.
Grassley, the state’s longest-serving member of Congress, cast much of the blame for the shutdown on Democrats — although several polls have shown both Republicans and Democrats strongly blame Trump.
Grassley prefaced his call for an agreement with a reference to the three-year anniversary of the death of Sarah Root, a Western Iowa woman who was killed in a drunken — driving crash that authorities say was caused by a person living in the country illegally.
The driver was released on bail and has fled authorities.