House Democrats Divided On Strategy To Force Release Of Trump's Tax Returns

Trump back to combative self after appeal for compromise

Congressional bargainers worked toward a border security deal Friday amid indications that the White House was preparing to accept a bipartisan agreement that would give President Donald Trump a fraction of the money he's demanded for his proposed southern border wall.

No one ruled out that last-minute problems could emerge, especially with Trump's penchant for head-snapping turnabouts.

In another tweet, Trump said he has heard that "other committee heads will do the same thing".

"During today's hearing we will examine a topic of great interest to the American people", said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, as he convened the hearing on issues relating to the disclosure of the president's tax returns.

As it stands, a caravan of some 1,600 Central American migrants is surrounded by Mexican authorities in an unused factory a short distance from the Texas border, where they hope to seek asylum. Lawmakers face a February 15 deadline when large portions of the government will shut back down absent a deal.

Trump warned Congress in his State of the Union address to halt the various investigations into his business and political dealings, and Republicans have said they will call any request for the president's tax returns a political witch hunt. But is there money for $5.7 (billion) just for the wall? No. This provision has existed since the 1920s, when Congress enabled three congressional committees to obtain the president's tax returns without the chief executive's consent. "When that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it".

Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama said the session on Thursday (Friday NZ time) in the Oval Office was "the most positive meeting I've had in a long time", and that the president was "very reasonable". "We need to get that as soon as possible now that we have the opportunity to do it, and it ought to be at the top of the list". We have to have it, it's not an option.

A senior administration official said the White House is "cautiously optimistic" about getting a deal they could support. The person would talk only on condition of anonymity to describe private talks.

Still, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham., a close ally of Trump, said on Thursday that the deal could be a good starting place - suggesting Trump could take additional action if needed to secure more wall funding without congressional approval.

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The two issues moved in tandem, with Democrats offering more money for border barriers in exchange for fewer detention beds.

"The foundation of our moral leadership around the globe is free and fair elections, where voters pick their leaders - not where politicians pick their voters", she said.

However, the deal will probably not yield the amount of funding Trump demanded throughout the government shutdown, nor will it cover the distance on the border he presumably had in mind.

"I don't see any wiggle room in the statute for the secretary to refuse a request", Yin said.

That goal has been high on their list of priorities since they won control of the House in November's midterm elections, but asking for Trump's returns is likely to set off a huge legal battle with his administration.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a negotiator, said both sides are showing flexibility.

Democrats said McConnell's declaration was a good indication for an agreement. "I think it will reveal a lot".

Down Pennsylvania Avenue at the Capitol, the mood among negotiators was distinctly upbeat, with participants in the talks between the Democratic- controlled House and Republican-held Senate predicting a deal could come as early as this weekend.

Still, lawmakers have grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected from Trump. But Trump rejected the deal, which did not include any money for a wall, starting a shutdown that lasted 35 days and was the longest in US history.

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