President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Unhappy with deal, Trump still doesn’t expect a new shutdown

Lawmakers tentatively agreed to a deal that would provide nearly $1.4 billion for border barriers

Under mounting pressure from his own party, President Donald Trump appears to be grudgingly leaning toward accepting an agreement that would head off a threatened second government shutdown but provide just a fraction of the money he’s been demanding for his Mexican border wall.

Trump said Tuesday he would need more time to study the plan, but he also declared he was not expecting another shutdown this weekend when funding for parts of the government would run out. He strongly signalled he planned to scrounge up additional dollars for the wall by raiding other federal coffers to deliver on the signature promise of his presidential campaign.

“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” Trump said of the proposed deal. “But the wall is getting built, regardless. It doesn’t matter because we’re doing other things beyond what we’re talking about here.”

Trump sounded more conciliatory in a Tuesday night tweet, thanking “all Republicans for the work you have done in dealing with the Radical Left on Border Security.”

Accepting the deal, worked out by congressional negotiators from both parties, would be a disappointment for a president who has repeatedly insisted he needs $5.7 billion for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the project is paramount for national security. Trump turned down a similar deal in December, forcing the 35-day partial shutdown that left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks and Republicans reeling. There is little appetite in Washington for a repeat.

Lawmakers tentatively agreed to a deal that would provide nearly $1.4 billion for border barriers and keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. Filling in the details has taken some time, as is typical, and aides reported Wednesday that the measure had hit some snags, though they doubted they would prove fatal.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the bill-writers were “still tinkering” with the legislation’s language.

“The president wants to see what the final package looks like and he’ll make a decision at that point,” she said.

The agreement would allow 55 miles (88 kilometres) of new fencing — constructed using existing designs such as metal slats— but far less than the 215 miles (345 kilometres) the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

READ MORE: Harrison Ford knocks Trump, others who ‘denigrate science’

READ MORE: Trump says having a dog would feel ‘a little phoney’ to him

Full details were not expected to be released until later Wednesday as lawmakers worked to translate their verbal agreement into legislation. But Republican leaders urged Trump to sign on.

“I hope he signs the bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who joined other GOP leaders in selling it as a necessary compromise that represented a major concession from Democrats.

Lawmakers need to pass some kind of funding bill to avoid another shutdown at midnight Friday and have worked to avoid turning to another short-term bill that would only prolong the border debate.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said of a possible shutdown: “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Still, he made clear that, if he does sign on to the deal, he is strongly considering supplementing it by moving money from what he described as less important areas of government.

“We have a lot of money in this country and we’re using some of that money — a small percentage of that money — to build the wall, which we desperately need,” he said.

The White House has long been laying the groundwork for Trump to use executive action to bypass Congress and divert money into wall construction. He could declare a national emergency or invoke other executive authority to tap funds including money set aside for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts.

Previewing that strategy last week, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said, “We’ll take as much money as you can give us, and then we will go off and find the money someplace else — legally — in order to secure that southern barrier.” He said more than $5.7 billion in available funds had been identified.

McConnell, who had previously said he was troubled by the concept of declaring a national emergency, said Tuesday that Trump “ought to feel free to use whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his effort to secure the border.”

The framework now under consideration contains plenty to anger lawmakers on both the right and left — more border fencing than many Democrats would like and too little for conservative Republicans — but its authors praised it as a genuine compromise that would keep the government open and allow everyone to move on.

Trump was briefed on the plan Tuesday by Shelby and sounded more optimistic after the meeting. “Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources,” he tweeted, adding, “Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!”

A Senate aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to describe the conversation by name, said the senator told Trump the wall money in the agreement was a down payment. Shelby did not ask whether Trump would sign the measure, but Trump told him he would study it.

The aide said the measure contains $22.5 billion for border security programs, including programs run by Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Congressional negotiators plan to release the legislation Wednesday. The measure and most of its details have so far been closely held.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged Trump to accept the package to avert another shutdown, calling the tentative accord “welcome news.”

But the proposal was met with fury by some on the right, including Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, a close friend of the president, who slammed it as a “garbage compromise.” And Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, released a scathing statement saying she and others had been “hoodwinked.”

Conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a close ally of the president, said that if Trump does agrees to the deal, he could be spared a “conservative uproar because everyone expects executive action to follow.”

“Two things are clear. We will not have a shutdown of the government and executive action to reprogram additional border security dollars is required,” Meadows said.

___

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report

Jill Colvin, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. father and sons launch new trunk-sharing system, ‘Trunkit’

Smiths say peer-to-peer shipping service offers an affordable, green alternative

Summerland thrift store to offer reusable cloth bags

Bags at Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store will be available at a nominal cost in March

Family Day move a welcome change: poll

Okanagan readers voted that the new date for Family Day in B.C. is a positive change

Penticton athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Penticton Vees look to playoffs after Feb. 16 win against Langley

The team needs to win two of their last three games to claim the division title

VIDEO: First responders save man friends say overdosed on fentanyl

Friends administered personal stores of naloxone before responders arrived

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Salmon Arm’s Laura Hall on bronze-winning skating squad

Hall’s team placed third in long track team pursuit at the Canada Winter Games

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Review: Joie de Vivre a celebration of homegrown talent

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert featured Ernst Schneider

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Most Read