- The conference committee tasked with addressing border security before government funding runs dry reached an agreement late Monday night.
- President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was unhappy with the proposal.
- Trump’s informal advisers and confidants outside the White House are already dismissing the proposal as insufficient.
- Trump often seeks their advice, which played a central role in the historic partial government shutdown that ended in January.
President Donald Trump is already panning the border-security deal reached by the bicameral, bipartisan conference committee, which could complicate the plan to avoid another government shutdown.
The White House spokesman Hogan Gidley on Tuesday morning said it was still too early for Trump to know whether he would be willing to support the conference committee’s proposal, which includes $US1.4 billion for additional physical barriers along the United States-Mexico border. The proposed barrier funding in the deal is a far cry from the $US5.7 billion the White House has demanded.
Trump followed suit Tuesday afternoon, appearing to have already soured on the deal.
“I can’t say I’m happy,” Trump said. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.”
But Trump dismissed the notion that another shutdown was on the horizon, saying that if such a thing were to occur, it would be Democrats’ fault, not his.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” he said. “If you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault.”
Conservatives push back on the deal
Some of Trump’s close allies are already dismissing the plan, urging him to chart another course to build his long-desired border wall.
While Trump was delivering a campaign-style speech in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, the Fox News host Sean Hannity cut into the rally’s live footage during his self-titled show to blast the deal as insufficient.
“By the way, on this new so-called compromise,” he said. “I’m getting details. $US1.3 billion? That’s not even a wall, a barrier… Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain – look at this crowd, look at the country.”
Hannity has been informally advising Trump for years, often talking to the president on the phone multiple times in a week.
And Fox News’ flagship host has gotten through to Trump of late, pushing him to stay firm during the partial federal government shutdown that dragged on for more than a month.
During that record 35-day shutdown, Trump exercised similar tactics to those used by his allies in the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus by refusing to get on board with any funding proposals until the shutdown reached a breaking point. Trump dug in after he had initially signalled support for a continuing resolution that would have averted the shutdown fiasco.
The president eventually agreed to a short-term funding bill, called a continuing resolution, which is scheduled to expire Friday.
The House Freedom Caucus’ chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, another close confidant of Trump, dismissed the conference committee’s proposal as unserious and insufficient.
“This conference agreement is hardly a serious attempt to secure our border or stop the flow of illegal immigration,” Meadows wrote on Twitter on Monday night. “It kicks the can down the road yet again, failing to address the critical priorities outlined by Border Patrol Chiefs. Congress is not doing its job.”
“Democrats applaud sending $US1.8 billion to Iran under Obama but can’t even find that much to secure America’s border,” Meadows added. “If this is the best they can do, it’s obvious they have no interest in serious border security. At this point it’s clear: POTUS should take executive action.”
Meadows speaks with Trump on a regular basis and is thought to have played a pivotal role in the hard line the White House drew during the shutdown.
Still, other lawmakers are optimistic about the latest border-security proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has praised the conference committee’s work.
“I know I speak for members on both sides of the aisle when I say that we are grateful to our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for their leadership and are eager to see them complete this work,” he said during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “As we speak, our colleagues are working hard to produce full legislative text. I look forward to reviewing the full text as soon as possible and hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order.”
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