The Memo

The Memo: Trump set to avoid second shutdown

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President Trump looks set to avoid another government shutdown this week, despite his dissatisfaction with a deal on border wall funding negotiated by lawmakers.

Having declared himself “not happy” about the proposed deal around noon on Tuesday, Trump took a more measured view in two evening tweets.

He wrote that he had reviewed the deal with “hard working Senator Richard Shelby” — an Alabama Republican centrally involved in the negotiations — and that he was “looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources.”

His comments appeared to confirm speculation that had been rife in Washington — that Trump would accept the deal grudgingly but would also seek to acquire additional funds for his border wall in a way that did not require congressional approval.{mosads}

The most direct way to do so would be a declaration of national emergency, which is certain to face legal challenge.

Sources in the circle around Trump affirmed that there was little appetite, on the part of the president or his party, for another shutdown, which would begin at midnight on Friday absent a new spending measure.

“It’s not going to happen,” said one GOP strategist close to the White House. “Republicans in the Senate don’t want to go along with any shutdown because, in the first one, they expended political capital needlessly without getting anything in return.”

The strategist emphasized that “the thought of another shutdown makes them sick to their stomach.”

Despite Trump’s tweets, there is still an element of uncertainty, however. Predicting exactly where Trump is going to land on any particular issue has long been a difficult task.

In December, the White House signaled that he was inclined to back a spending deal, only for him to renege on that position under a barrage of conservative criticism.

His stance set the stage for a partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days, affected about 800,000 federal employees and was widely seen as ending in defeat for the president and the GOP.

This time around, however, the mood music is very different.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus and a Trump confidant, told CNBC that he did not believe Trump would veto the spending bill — despite Trump’s earlier comments.{mossecondads}

“I can’t say I’m happy, I can’t say I’m thrilled,” Trump said of the deal around noon on Tuesday, adding that its terms were not “doing the trick.”

Asked specifically whether there would be another shutdown, Trump demurred.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown. I wouldn’t want to go to it, no. If you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault,” he said.

The terms of the deal hashed out by congressional leaders on Monday included even less money than was on offer in December, though Republicans argue there are fewer restrictions on how it can be spent.

The new agreement would provide $1.375 billion for new fencing at the southern border. In December, Democrats were offering $1.6 billion, though that was for border security generally and was only to be used for repairs to existing sections of a border barrier.

Either option is a long way off from the $5 billion-plus Trump had originally sought for wall funding in order to deliver his signature campaign trail promise.

At a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, he switched from his usual slogan of “Build the Wall” to “Finish the Wall.” And in one of his Tuesday night tweets, he said that “[regardless] of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!”

Fact-checkers noted that no new stretches of border wall have been built during his presidency so far. Even some Trump loyalists privately expressed concern that the switch to the “Finish the Wall” slogan reeked of political spin.

Among supporters of the president on Tuesday, opinion was clear-cut that the congressional deal alone would not be sufficient.

“I think this so-called deal is worse than a joke,” Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, told The Hill. “It does not address border security and it does not solve the crisis at our border.”

The deal also drew condemnation from a number of conservative commentators.

Sean Hannity called it “garbage” on Fox News Channel on Monday night. Ann Coulter mocked it as Trump’s “Yellow New Deal.” Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network said it was “an insult” to Trump and the American people.

Other figures, including radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, were milder in their criticisms, however.

“He can always hold out the card of a declaration of a national emergency to get the rest of it built and so forth,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.

Some conservatives had worried that a declaration of national emergency — or some other expansive exercise of executive power — would set a dangerous precedent.

But those concerns are increasingly taking a back seat as it becomes apparent that there is no path through Congress to the kind of wall Trump so often promised.

“I’m in favor of the president doing whatever he can, legally, to secure the border,” said Martin.

The GOP strategist close to the White House said a solo move by Trump was increasingly likely.

“What I’m hearing is that it is very possible that the president may try to have his cake and eat it too — meaning he will take this deal but also declare an emergency,” the source said.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Tags Donald Trump Mark Meadows Richard Shelby
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