LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Deal or no deal - the deadline for select members of the House and Senate to reach a deal on border security funding is Friday. If they settle on a compromise that can pass both chambers and get signed by the president, we can avoid another shutdown. But things are looking a bit shaky this morning. NPR's Mara Liasson has the latest. Good morning.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right - how does it look?
LIASSON: Well, we had been hearing that they were close to a compromise, that they were talking about some amount of money for border security, border barriers less than the $5.7 billion the president was asking for. But now we're hearing reports that they've hit a snag. It's mostly over the issue of how many detention beds should be funded. These are the beds that are put in detention centers for arrested immigrants. Also, this morning, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC that he can't rule out another government shutdown but that, quote, "the most likely outcome is that Congress will reach a border security agreement that President Trump can sign." And, of course, that raises the biggest question of all, which is, even if Congress did come to some kind of agreement, what would the president accept? And Republicans have said they're not quite sure because he's gone back and forth about exactly what he wants.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right - that's kind of what scuppered the bipartisan deal last time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The president didn't want to sign it. So what are the calculations here for the president?
LIASSON: Well, President Trump has to decide what's best for him politically. You know, his State of the Union address last week was the first speech of his re-election campaign. He's going down to El Paso this week. That would be - could be considered his first 2020 election rally. And he has to decide, is it better for him to compromise with Congress? Or is he concerned that he might end up accepting a number for funding border security that's so small that his base will think he's wimped out on the wall? And then maybe it's better for him to declare a national emergency and try to build the wall himself, even though Republicans are very divided about that path. So we don't know, still, exactly what he wants. Maybe on Monday, we'll get some more clues from the president when he goes to the border.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right - let's turn to the political chaos in Virginia. That's something else grabbing the headlines. You have Governor Ralph Northam, an attorney general - and the attorney general - both white - hit with scandals about wearing blackface. You also have the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, an African-American, facing allegations of sexual assault - all of them Democrats. What's at stake here?
LIASSON: Well, there's a lot at stake. The Virginia Democratic Party has a tremendous amount at stake. It's a little too early to say what the larger impact will be on national Democrats. But Virginia Democrats have to decide, do they want to impeach or force out an African-American leader in the state while they let two white leaders stay in office? They're balancing a lot of things. They want to be true to their values and to their new zero-tolerance standard for sexual improprieties and racial insensitivity. They also don't want to alienate women or African-Americans. They want to act with some kind of due process. And they don't want to end up in a circular firing squad because they want Democrats to end up running the state of Virginia. So I think one of the things I've heard - they need to make sure that they can get a lieutenant governor who is free enough of scandal to be able to ascend to the governor's job if Ralph Northam is forced out. And that's a very tricky problem.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I mean, finding someone free of scandal seems quite difficult in the state of Virginia at this particular point in time.
LIASSON: Well, there are members of the state legislature that could do that. But they have to figure out the timing and exactly what they want to do and how much forbearance they want to give these people who are accused.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you so much.
LIASSON: Thank you.
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