Trump says not `happy` with border deal but shutdown unlikely14 February 2019 AFP, Washington
President Donald Trump indicated on Tuesday he will climb down over his threat to shut the government even if he doesn\'t get all the money he has demanded for building walls along the US-Mexican border.
President Donald Trump indicated Tuesday that he will walk back his threat to shut the government even if he does not get all the money he has demanded for building a wall along the US-Mexican border.
Although Trump left enough wiggle room to keep the country guessing, he appeared to be edging toward accepting a deal struck in Congress that would give him significantly less money for the much-maligned barrier.
"I can't say I'm happy, I can't say I'm thrilled," Trump said. But he also told a cabinet meeting in the White House: "I don't think you're going to see a shutdown." He was responding to a deal struck by Republican and Democratic lawmakers to offer nearly $1.4 billion for wall construction, as well as other border security measures.
This was far less than the $5.7 billion Trump wanted, but it was presented as a workable deal to satisfy both sides and allow Trump to shelve his threat to shut down large portions of the government on Friday.
Trump said he would manage to "add" to the congressional funds, though he did not explain how.
Lawmakers, including from his own Republican Party, pressured Trump to take what was on the table.
Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican negotiator, called it "a pretty good deal."
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said the compromise would be voted on and likely passed, ready for Trump's signature. "The deal is the way it's going to be written, and it will be filed, I suspect, tomorrow night," he said.
The funds would finance 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) of new walls along the border.
Hundreds of miles of barriers already run along the US-Mexican border, but Trump says far more are needed to bring what he often calls an "invasion" of migrant criminals under control.
Democrats say Trump vastly exaggerates the crime problem and uses the issue to whip up his right-wing voter base. In December, Trump tried to pressure Congress into approving the $5.7 billion by refusing to sign off on funding large parts of government that have nothing to do with the wall, putting 800,000 jobs, from FBI agents to airport security, on hold for five weeks.
The Democrats refused to budge and Trump was forced into an embarrassing retreat, allowing new negotiations to open with a new deadline of this Friday.
This time, Republicans appear desperate to avoid a second shutdown, leaving Trump with less political cover.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the compromise deal was "certainly good news."
"Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources," Trump tweeted about the deal. "Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!" he added, without providing further explanation about his figures.
· Election ploy -
Although there's little doubt that organized Mexican drug crime and people smugglers present a threat along the US border, Trump's fixation on wall building has polarized Americans to the point where the left and right can barely discuss the issue.
For Trump, chants of "build the wall" were crucial to his surprise 2016 election victory. At a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday he introduced a new slogan for his coming 2020 re-election bid: "Finish the wall."
The thousands of devoted Trump fans, many of them wearing his red "Make America great again" campaign hats, cheered at the dire warnings about Mexican criminals and calls for bigger and longer walls.
"Walls save lives, walls save tremendous numbers of lives," Trump told them.
There was a counter-message a short distance from where Trump spoke when rising Democratic star Beto O'Rourke - a possible challenger in 2020 - held his own rally.
A former congressman who excited grassroots Democrats in November with an against-the-odds near upset of Republican Senator Ted Cruz, O'Rourke is from El Paso.
"Tonight, we will meet lies and hate with the truth and a positive, inclusive, ambitious vision for the future from the US-Mexico border," he said.
Trump dismissed O'Rourke as "a young man who's got very little going for himself except he's got a great first name."
Making fun of what he said was O'Rourke's much smaller crowd, Trump said: "That may be the end of his presidential bid."
President Trump said on Tuesday that he's not "happy" with a potential budget deal being worked out by congressional negotiators but added that he doesn't think there will be another partial government shutdown.
"I have to study it," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. "I'm not happy about it. It's not doing the trick. ... Am I happy at first glance? I just got to see it. The answer is no, I'm not happy." He said that he would be "adding things to it."
He continued, "I don't think you're going to see a shutdown. ... If you did have it, it's the Democrats' fault."
Details of the deal are still being finalized, but broad outlines include nearly $1.4 billion for 55 miles of physical barriers at the border and a limit of about 40,000 detention beds at Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. Currently, ICE has capacity for just over 49,000 detentions.
The deal is a breakthrough after talks broke down during the weekend over the number of people ICE could detain, which is tied to the number of beds it is allowed. Democrats wanted an even lower cap on the number of beds, arguing that this would force ICE to focus on criminals and those who are truly violent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised the compromise and urged Trump to sign it.
"I think he's got a pretty good deal here," McConnell said. "I think he's done just fine, and I hope he'll conclude that, because he has to sign the bill."
Still, it remains unclear if Trump will accept the compromise, especially since ahead of the previous partial shutdown, on Dec. 22, Trump had seemed inclined to back a funding bill but then changed his mind amid blowback from conservatives. The amount for physical barriers, after all, does not come close to the amount the president has been demanding for a wall - $5.7 billion. The government will partially shut down again early Saturday if a deal is not reached.
McConnell hasn't asked Trump yet for a commitment to sign the bill, given that final details and text are still being worked out, but the Senate's leading Republican said, "If it becomes what we think it is, I do recommend he sign it."
Speaking at a campaign rally Monday night soon after news of the agreement broke, the president suggested the deal reached by lawmakers was not the end of the discussion about a border wall.
"We probably have some good news," Trump said, somewhat unenthusiastically, in El Paso, Texas, before adding, "I don't even want to hear about it. ... Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway."
Talking directly to his base at the rally, he said, "It was between the deal and you, and I had to choose you."
Many conservatives have decried the bill.
Fox News host Sean Hannity called the potential deal "garbage."
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, of the conservative Freedom Caucus tweeted that it was a "bad deal."