KONFRONTASI-With little time remaining to craft a deal over funding security operations on the US-Mexico border, a bipartisan group of politicians was to meet in a public work session on Wednesday even as President Donald Trump maintained a hard line on constructing a massive wall.
Congressional negotiators are up against a February 15 deadline for agreeing on funding through September 30 for several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and its border operations.
Realistically, Republican and Democratic legislators have little more than a week to settle differences and still give the full House of Representatives and Senate time to debate and vote on any deal.
A 35-day partial shutdown was triggered on December 22 when Trump refused to sign any funding bills that did not contain at least $5.7bn for a wall along the southwestern US border.
Throughout the shutdown - the longest of its type in US history - polls consistently found that most Americans blamed Trump.
Faced with steadfast opposition in the Democratic-majority House, Trump relented on Friday, agreeing to re-open federal agencies temporarily even though he did not get his $5.7bn request. In return, Congress agreed to form a special panel to negotiate a border security deal.
Trump has threatened a resumption of the record-long shutdown if the panel fails to find common ground or produces a plan he does not like.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump warned: "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!"
Physical barriers have long been installed on parts of the border to keep out illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants and more are under construction.
It was unclear whether Trump, who views the current arrangement as insufficient, would accept a simple continuation of such installations.