Durbin, at Harper College, says he's confident of bipartisan border deal but unsure of Trump support

 
 
Updated 2/8/2019 5:41 PM
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  • U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, after a tour of Harper College's advanced manufacturing lab on Friday, said he was confident that a bipartisan committee of legislators would reach agreement on border security.

      U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, after a tour of Harper College's advanced manufacturing lab on Friday, said he was confident that a bipartisan committee of legislators would reach agreement on border security. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, second from right, tours Harper College's advanced manufacturing lab on Friday with state Sen. Ann Gillespie, left, Harper President Ken Ender and Mary Beth Ottinger, right, dean of career and technical programs.

      U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, second from right, tours Harper College's advanced manufacturing lab on Friday with state Sen. Ann Gillespie, left, Harper President Ken Ender and Mary Beth Ottinger, right, dean of career and technical programs. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, appearing Friday at Harper College in Palatine, remained confident heading into the weekend that he and a bipartisan group of legislators could reach agreement on border security and avert a second government shutdown.

But what that deal would look like -- including any new money for barriers -- and whether President Donald Trump will support it is still unknown.

Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois and Senate Democratic minority whip, is part of a 17-person House and Senate conference committee working on a compromise for funding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before a Feb. 15 deadline.

He said he "feels good" about the chances of reaching a bipartisan compromise in the next few days, as long as Trump doesn't threaten a shutdown.

"The good news is I sat through the State of the Union address and the president of the United States never once used the word 'shutdown.' I think he's learned his lessons," Durbin said. "I don't think the president will make that same mistake twice. And I think if he tries, his own party will turn on him."

Democrats remain opposed to Trump's previous demand of $5.7 billion for a wall on the Mexican border -- Durbin on Friday calling it "over the moon" -- but he declined to detail whether they're open to funding other types of barriers, as part of the ongoing negotiations process. Durbin said Democrats already agreed to fund 120 miles' worth of new and replacement fencing over the last two years, but those projects haven't been completed.

He's proposed more money for upgraded technology -- specifically more money for large X-ray machines to scan trucks and cars at ports of entry, where 90 percent of illegal drugs come through, he said.

"I want to do something about the war on drugs. We're facing the worst drug epidemic in American history," Durbin said.

Durbin visited Harper Friday morning to tour the school's advanced manufacturing lab, and he was in Schaumburg earlier to address a meeting of the Construction Industry Service Corp., a nonprofit labor management association.

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