- The bipartisan conference committee has finalised their border security proposal that would help avert another government shutdown.
- President Trump has so far been unenthusiastic about the deal.
- Top Senate Republicans told INSIDER that the border security proposal is just a first step and could lead to more action from Trump, including an emergency declaration.
WASHINGTON – Just as the conference committee reached an agreement on a border security proposal and avert another partial government shutdown, top Republicans are suggesting President Donald Trump could still act unilaterally to bolster construction of physical barriers along the United States-Mexico border.
Republicans who spoke to INSIDER have characterised the final agreement as the best they could get while working with Democrats, but said that further steps might need to be taken for Trump to be fully satisfied.
“I never expected to get a whole lot more wall money – barrier money,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “So he’ll go the emergency route here pretty soon.”
Graham, a close confidant of the president, added he expects Trump to “take the difference between what was appropriated and what he needs and find it through executive action.”
The bipartisan, bicameral proposal includes nearly $US1.4 billion for physical barriers, far less than the original $US5.7 billion the White House demanded. Republicans touted the current number as a win over Democrats who had previously pledged that not a dime would go to any wall funding, but suggested more steps could be necessary.
“The delta between $US1.375 [billion] and $US5.7 [billion] can be made up in two ways: the reprogramming of money through existing statues and declaring a national emergency and using that vehicle to find funds,” he said. “I think he’ll probably do both.”
Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, one of the Republican lawmakers on the conference committee, said the deal is a net positive for Trump because it gets at least some funds that otherwise would not be there.
“So he still has those other options, whether that’s finding discretionary funds through [the Office of Management and Budget] like he’s talked about or an emergency declaration like he’s talked about,” Hoeven told INSIDER. “So he still has those options. And all along I felt like this might be more than a one-step process. So this is kind of the first step.”
Trump has been unenthusiastic about the deal, suggesting more action is on the table
Trump’s initial take on the plan was unsupportive and he made note of saying the deal was not an end-all solution.
“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” Trump said during his cabinet meeting Tuesday afternoon. “But the wall is getting built, regardless. It doesn’t matter. Because we’re doing other things beyond what we’re talking about here. So we’ll see what happens.”
Many of Trump’s close confidants and allies – including Graham -have been urging him to take unilateral action and fund border wall construction through emergency powers, a move many lawmakers worried it could face numerous legal hurdles.
Other lawmakers have lamented the reprogramming of funds for a border wall.
The final package will likely get a vote in both the House and Senate by the end of the week, as funding runs out on February 15.