President Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that he has reviewed a border funding agreement reached by congressional negotiators to avert another shutdown. Earlier in the day, an official familiar with the matter told CBS News the president is “very likely” to sign the deal if it reaches his desk.
“Was just presented the concept and parameters of the Border Security Deal by hard working Senator Richard Shelby. Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources….” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet, adding: “…Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!”
The agreement announced Monday night includes $1.375 billion for physical barriers, a concession by Democrats but far less than the $5.7 billion requested by Mr. Trump. At a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday, Mr. Trump expressed his displeasure with the agreement.
“Am I happy at first glance? I just got to see it. The answer is no, I’m not. I’m not happy,” the president told reporters Tuesday. “But am I happy with where we’re going? I’m thrilled. Because we’re supplementing things and moving things around and we’re doing things that are fantastic and taking from far less really from far less important areas, and the bottom line is we’re building a lot of wall, right now, we’re building a lot of wall.”
The president also said he doesn’t think there will be another government shutdown but said he plans to pin the blame on Democrats if there is.
In addition to money for physical barriers, the agreement includes a reduction in the number of detention beds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), from the current 49,057 level to 40,520, according to a congressional aide. Democrats had sought the reduction in detention beds in an effort to force the administration to prioritize detaining undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.
Mr. Trump held his first campaign rally of the year Monday night, pushing for his border wall at an event in El Paso, Texas.
CNN was first to report Mr. Trump is “likely” to sign the deal, citing a White House official. But Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on his position several times in the past.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon that the deal had been finalized and was being crafted into actual legislation.
McConnell said he hopes the president will sign the deal but has not asked for nor received any assurances yet. He appeared to be determined to push ahead with a vote even if he does not receive that promise, a change in McConnell’s approach before the last shutdown, when he consistently said it would be pointless to hold a vote on something the president doesn’t support.
At his rally Monday night, the president again argued for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by railing against illegal immigration and falsely linking undocumented immigrants to disproportionate crime. He also accused Democrats of endorsing “open borders” and criticized the “far-left” for efforts to defund or abolish ICE.