Columns

McConnell Aims to Act on Border Deal in 'Short Order' as Trump 'Not Happy' with Pact

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to the chamber at the Capitol on Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the budget agreement forged by a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee as a win for Republicans, while President Trump said he’s “not happy” with the preliminary agreement.

While Trump sought $5.7 billion for a border wall, the proposal would provide $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border barriers. In exchange for this cut, Democrats dropped a demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement put a cap on the number of detention beds.

“I have to study it. I’m not happy about it. It’s not doing the trick but I’m adding things to it,” Trump told reporters today during a Cabinet meeting.

On the Senate floor, McConnell said that “my Democrat colleagues did abandon …unreasonable positions, and the negotiations were able to move forward productively.”

“It provides new funds for miles of new border barriers. And it completes all seven outstanding appropriations bills, so Congress can complete a funding process for all the outstanding parts of the federal government with predictability and certainty,” he said.

“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. 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.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) commended the deal to avert a government shutdown with a Friday deadline, saying on the floor that “while the details are still 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.”

“I thank the members of the conference committee and I’d make one more point: I urge President Trump to sign this agreement. We must not have a re-run of what happened a few months back when legislators – Democrat and Republican, House and Senate – agreed, and President Trump pulled the rug out from under the agreement and caused a shutdown,” Schumer added. “If he opposes this agreement, the same thing could happen again. We don’t need it. So I strongly urge President Trump to sign this agreement. No one gets everything they want in these agreements. President Trump must sign it and not cause another shutdown.”

Trump further added today, “I happen to think that the walls they were building were so unattractive and so ugly that walls got bad names, if that means anything. But they were so ugly with rusted steel and big ugly plates on top that were all tin cans.”

“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 said of the deal. “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, taking 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. You think it’s easy? We’re building it in the face of tremendous obstruction and tremendous opposition from a small group of people.”

Trump said he doesn’t “think you’re going to see a shutdown” and added he “wouldn’t want to see a shutdown.”

“If you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault. And I accepted the first one and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished because people learned during that shutdown all about the problems coming in from the southern border. I accept it. I’ve always accepted it,” he said. “But this one, I would never accept it if it happens, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. But this would be totally on the Democrats.”