Posted: 12:48 pm Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
By Jamie Dupree
A day after top negotiators hammered out a tentative agreement on a plan to fund additional fencing along the Mexican border, along with deals on a series of bills to fully fund the operations of one-quarter of the federal government, President Donald Trump made clear to reporters Tuesday that he wasn’t pleased with the final product.
“I can’t say I’m happy,” the President said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.”
Asked if he was thinking about using ‘national emergency’ powers to funnel money to a border wall, President Trump wouldn’t rule that out.
“I’m considering everything,” the President said. “We’re building a wall.”
President Trump on border security deal reached by lawmakers: "I can tell you that, am I happy at first glance? … The answer is no, I'm not, I'm not happy" https://t.co/uAFtSJFBeI pic.twitter.com/xmrT1Dhwua
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 12, 2019
Mr. Trump did not expressly say whether he would sign the funding plan – or veto it because of the final numbers on border security, as the $1.375 billion for border barriers was much less than the $5.7 billion he wanted from Congress, a dispute which led to a five week partial government shutdown.
“It’s not doing the trick,” the President said to reporters.
Even before the President weighed in on the border funding agreement, the top Republican in the Senate endorsed the plan, clearly signaling that GOP Senators want to end this fight, as well as the overdue work on the 2019 budget, and move on to other issues.
“It provides new funds for miles of new border barriers,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “And it completes all seven outstanding appropriations bills, so Congress can complete a funding process for all the outstanding parts of the federal government.”
.@Senatemajldr on government funding negotiations: "Last night, Chairman Shelby, Senator Leahy and their counterparts in the House announced they've reached an agreement in principle. Certainly, good news." pic.twitter.com/q5TYylonGL
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2019
It wasn’t clear how many rank-and-file GOP lawmakers would vote on the deal, as more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus have signaled their opposition already.
“At this point it’s clear: POTUS should take executive action,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) tweeted on Tuesday morning.
But one key ally of the President in the Senate signaled that it was time to move on.
“I’m really hopeful that today, tomorrow, we get agreement on this and move past this,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
“I think this deal – it’s a little over a billion dollars – it’s a start,” said Perdue, who has supported the President’s calls for tougher measures both at the border and in terms of changes to U.S. immigration laws.
As for Democrats, most seemed to be ready to back the deal.
Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the Democratic negotiators, isn't waiting to hear whether Trump will sign Congress's budget bill.
"No! We're an independent body. We're the ones who do spending bills. If the White House doesn't like it, fine, veto it."
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) February 12, 2019
“Our bipartisan committee did its job and crafted a compromise that will help secure our borders and keep the government open,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
Congress faces a Friday night funding deadline to try to avoid a second partial government shutdown – the President said if there is a shutdown at this point, he would blame it on Democrats in Congress.