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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 TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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.

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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 McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot 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 MeadowsPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines On The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing 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 McCarthyMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon MORE (R-Calif.) nor Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future 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 SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden 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 LoweyDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair This week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint MORE (D-N.Y.) says she has read Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Houston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic relief 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 DingellRaces heat up for House leadership posts Democrats flubbed opportunity to capitalize on postal delays COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (D-Mich.) in Washington on Thursday. A funeral service for the late Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesSupreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising Experts warn Georgia's new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions Georgia restores 22,000 voter registrations after purge 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 DurbinDick DurbinCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases 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 ShelbyTop GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week McConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal 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 BluntTop GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill after talks with Mnuchin, Meadows Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal 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.