White House says no short-term funding bill without 'down payment' on wall

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE said Thursday he would accept a stopgap spending bill to reopen the government but only if it contains a “down payment” for his long-desired border wall, hinting at a possible deal to end the record-long shutdown.

Trump told reporters at the White House he would consider legislation with a “prorated down payment for the wall” but did not specify a dollar amount.

“If they come to a reasonable agreement I would support it, yes,” Trump said when asked about talks between Senate leaders.

ADVERTISEMENT

The comments, which came shortly after the Senate rejected two separate funding bills, represent a possible shift for Trump, who has demanded $5.7 billion for the wall in exchange for ending the partial government shutdown, which has stretched into its 34th day.

Pressure is growing on Trump and Congress to end the shutdown and lawmakers quickly began talks on finding a resolution, including a three-week funding measure to reopen the government while buying more time for immigration talks.

Trump on Thursday discussed a stopgap measure that includes wall and disaster-relief money by phone with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Africa's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again MORE (R-S.C.), who said it would represent a showing of “good faith from both sides.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage MORE (D-N.Y.) quickly began talks after the votes failed, but it remains unclear whether they would support a temporary funding bill.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrevor Noah on lack of Pelosi nickname from Trump: 'There is a reverence for her' Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE (D-Calif.) appeared to shoot down the possibility of a stopgap bill that includes a wall “down payment” shortly after Trump floated the idea.

“The president just said that if they come to a reasonable agreement he will support it,” she told reporters on Capitol Hill shortly after Trump spoke. “I hope it doesn't mean some big down payment for the wall.”

She added that such a proposal is “not a reasonable agreement between the senators.”

It also remains unclear how much money Trump would need to throw his support behind a stopgap spending bill. He only told reporters that it “it depends what the agreement is.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement earlier Thursday the number would have to be “large” but declined to state an exact figure.

The president also hinted that he could take executive action to jump start wall construction if he does not receive funding in Congress, saying “I have other alternatives if I have to, and I’d use those alternatives if I have to, but we want to go through the system. We have to have a wall in this situation.”

CNN reported Thursday evening that the White House is drafting paperwork for Trump to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and begin building the wall, a move he has long threatened if lawmakers cannot come to an agreement.

The Senate on Thursday voted down two proposals that would have reopened the government, including one proposed by the White House that contained Trump's request for wall funding, as well as other immigration measures.

Trump, however, claimed victory on his proposal, saying that he “won” on a 50-47 vote. But he then noted the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate to advance the legislation.

The Democrats’ proposal, which would fund closed government agencies through Feb. 8, received a 52-44 vote, even though Republicans have a six-seat edge in the upper chamber.

The vote total appeared to erode Trump and the GOP’s leverage in negotiating his demand for wall-funding: six GOP senators crossed the aisle and voted for the Democratic measure.

— Updated at 6:38 p.m.