GOP leader presses Trump to agree to border deal

Congress is moving forward with a border security deal that would prevent a new shutdown at the end of the week after President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE expressed unhappiness but stopped short of saying he would kill it.

Trump, who is getting far less in the $1.375 billion deal for border barriers than he had demanded, said he was “extremely unhappy” with what Democrats had conceded in the negotiations over his border wall.

“It’s sad. They’re doing the country no favors,” Trump said at a meeting with his Cabinet.

ADVERTISEMENT

But he predicted there would not be a shutdown, and he said he planned to add to the deal.

“I’m adding things to it, and when you add whatever I have to add, it’s all going to happen where we’re going to build a beautiful, big, strong wall,” Trump said.

Hours after Trump’s remarks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (R-Ky.) said he hoped that Trump would sign the deal, adding that “I think he’s got a pretty good deal here.”

"I have recommended that if it becomes what we think it is, I do recommend he sign it," McConnell told reporters. "I think he's got a pretty good deal here."

McConnell, who sought to prevent the partial government shutdown triggered by Trump in December, also signaled he would not oppose Trump if he declares a national emergency to build his wall. Such a declaration has divided Republicans, many of whom think it would set a bad precedent that a future Democratic leader could use to spend money on health care or climate change.

McConnell said the president should feel free to use whatever tools are at his disposal to augment funding for border barriers.

“I think he ought to feel free to use whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his effort to secure the border, so no I would not be troubled by that,” he said.

The 35-day partial shutdown that ended in January sunk Trump’s approval ratings and badly divided Republicans, who near its end were pleading with McConnell to convince the White House to end it. 

On Tuesday morning, after Republican and Democratic negotiators announced their deal, many were bracing for what the president would say.

Conservative pundits including Fox News host Sean Hannity have hammered the deal, and such criticism influenced Trump in December when he effectively trash-canned a Senate deal to keep the government open.

Ann Coulter, the conservative author seen as goading Trump into killing a potential deal in December, mocked the Monday night agreement as the “Yellow New Deal,” playing on a color sometimes symbolic of cowardice and the Green New Deal touted by House liberals to protect the environment.

There were some signs Tuesday that allies of Trump wanted to avoid a new shutdown even if they disliked the deal worked out by House and Senate appropriators.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.), who also played a key role in persuading Trump to oppose the Senate stopgap spending bill in December, said Tuesday he would vote against the new deal.

He predicted that Trump would probably sign the bill into law, albeit with reservations.

“I think the president will sign it. I think he will do so reluctantly and then obviously have to use executive actions to secure our border,” he told reporters.

Trump did not flatly say he would sign the measure, and many Republicans on Capitol Hill avoided taking a position on the legislation on Tuesday.

Neither Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Bret Stephens: Would love to see Hannity react when Dem declares climate change emergency MORE (R-Calif.) nor Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Texas man with politician hit list, illegally 3D printed rifle sentenced to eight years The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? MORE (R-La.) took a formal position on the border deal Tuesday. The two top House GOP leaders, friendly rivals who engaged in a shadow campaign for Speaker last year, want as little daylight with Trump as possible and don’t want to be for the deal if Trump comes out against it.    

In an interview with CNBC, McCarthy lamented that he wished the deal had more money for Trump’s wall but suggested that the president could find other ways to fund border security.

“The president has a few more tools in his toolbox,” McCarthy said.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (N.Y.) hailed the deal as a breakthrough, although he cautioned the details still need to be finalized.

“While the details are being hammered out, the tentative agreement represents a path forward for our country — away from another round of fraught negotiations up against a government funding cliff, away from a dreaded government shutdown,” he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyOn The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (D-N.Y.) says she has read Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDonald Trump proved himself by winning fight for border security Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season MORE (D-Calif.) into the deal and Pelosi previously said she would accept what the conferees agree to.

A spokesman for Pelosi said she is backing the deal.

Legislative text is expected to be released on Wednesday, and a House vote could come as soon as the same day.

The House schedule is in flux, however, because a funeral mass will be held for the late Rep. John DingellJohn DingellTrump should beware the 'clawback' Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word MORE (D-Mich.) in Washington on Thursday. A funeral service for the late Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesHouse pays tribute to Walter Jones GOP leader presses Trump to agree to border deal House passes resolution honoring Walter Jones MORE (R-N.C.) is also scheduled in North Carolina the same day.

It’s possible the deal could lose the votes of Democrats who think it does too little to restrict the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It's not what I wanted to see, but it represents the fact that we have a split” control of Congress, said Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois MORE (Ill.), who said he wants to see the final version before deciding how to vote.

Durbin said he's concerned ICE is “arresting people who are not dangerous and deporting them.”

McConnell urged GOP senators to support the bill by warning that if it gets shelved, Congress will wind up passing a continuing resolution or face another shutdown.

And Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyHow the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-Ala.), who negotiated the deal, told colleagues at lunch that “it’s the best we could do under difficult circumstances,” according to a lawmaker in the room.

No one in the room spoke up to argue against passing the deal, a second GOP senator attending the meeting said.

Shelby later told reporters that he had to face the reality that Democrats now control half of Congress.

He said Trump’s staff were fully apprised about the negotiations as they progressed.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate-House conference committee that negotiated the deal, said that Trump could reprogram some money to supplement the $1.375 billion provided in the deal for border barriers.

But the amount he said Trump could shift, roughly $800 million from defense accounts to the Department of Homeland Security, would still give the president only a fraction of the amount he requested from Congress.

Jordain Carney and Cristina Marcos contributed.