President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE appears increasingly likely to sign border security legislation to avert another government shutdown that would begin on Saturday.
The president and his allies have expressed dismay at an agreement reached this week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers but have downplayed talk of shutting down the government for a second time this year.
Instead, the president’s surrogates have given indications that Trump will sign off on the bill to keep the government open and secure wall funding through other means to build his long-desired wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We want to see what the final piece of legislation looks like. It’s hard to say definitively whether or not the president is going to sign it until we know everything that’s in it,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
“The president isn’t fully happy, as he said yesterday, with everything that’s in the legislation but there are some positive pieces of it,” Sanders added. “At the end of the day the president is going to build the wall.”
It's always possible that the president could pull a last-minute surprise. In December, the White House signaled Trump would sign a funding bill to avoid a shutdown, but Trump ultimately held to his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding, triggering a 35-day partial shutdown.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, are moving forward with legislation — suggesting they expect Trump to sign the bill.
The House has scheduled a vote for Thursday evening on the legislation, which includes $1.375 billion in funding for roughly 55 miles of new barriers along the southern border, and roughly $23 billion in total funding.
That would set up a vote in the Senate that night or Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) has said he hopes that Trump will sign the deal.
Trump has been noncommittal about whether he will sign the deal brokered by Congress since it was announced Monday night. The deal includes less funding for the border than he has advocated for, though Trump has said he could take executive action to secure the rest.
Still, the president on Tuesday softened his tone toward the agreement over the course of several hours and refrained from threatening to shut down the government over the deal.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” the president said at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “If you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault. And I accepted the first one, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished because people learned during that shutdown all about the problems coming in from the southern border."
“But this one I would never accept if it happens, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he added.
After telling reporters at a Cabinet meeting that began Tuesday morning that he was “not happy” about the congressional deal, by Tuesday evening he was thanking Republicans on Twitter “for the work you have done in dealing with the Radical Left on Border Security" and suggesting he could pair the bill with other sources to fund the wall.
Republican leaders have pressed Trump to sign off on the legislation before government funding expires on Friday.
The president's conservative allies, most of whom have panned the latest deal for inadequately addressing border security, seemed to agree that's what the president would do.
Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsDemocrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled Report: Rally organizers say GOP lawmakers worked on Jan. 6 protests Three key behind-the-scenes figures in Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a staunch ally of the president, told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that he was “disappointed” in the legislation, but would not hold it against Trump if he opted to sign the bill.
“I’m not going to be disappointed in the president,” Meadows said. “I’m disappointed in Congress. The president wants to keep the government open. If he uses this as a vehicle so be it.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity called the deal “pathetic” but was similarly open to the prospect that Trump would agree to it, saying he's “not as concerned as some other conservatives if the president signs the bill.”
Both Meadows and Hannity argued that Trump would need to supplement the proposed legislation with some type of executive action.
Hannity said Tuesday night Trump could sign the bill and combine it with federal money that could be reallocated from other areas.
The president could then declare a national emergency to direct additional construction of the wall, Hannity said, acknowledging that it would be likely to draw immediate legal challenges.
Trump has raised the prospect for weeks of declaring a national emergency if he did not receive his desired $5.7 billion in wall funding. Republicans have voiced opposition to the move, warning that it would get tied up in the courts and could set a dangerous precedent.
Despite those concerns, the president has refused to rule out anything ahead of Friday's funding deadline.
“The bottom line is — on the wall — we're building the wall,” Trump said Tuesday. “And we're using other methods, other than [the legislation] and in addition to this. We have a lot of things going. 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.”