Following a White House Cabinet meeting Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he’s “not happy” with the border security compromise deal Republican and Democrat congressional leaders came up with to prevent another government shutdown.
Republicans tentatively agreed Monday night to a deal that allocated substantially less money for the wall than the White House wanted — nearly $1.4 billion, rather than Trump’s request of $5.7 billion.
“Am I happy at first glance? I just got to see it — the answer is no! I’m not. I’m not happy,” Trump said. “But am I happy with where we’re going? I’m thrilled,” he added. “The bottom line is, we’re building a lot of wall.”
Top Republicans Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Kevin McCarthy in the House both claimed victory, crowing about Democratic concessions on new border barriers and a late-stage battle over the ability of federal authorities to arrest and detain immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
“You’ve got to remember where Nancy Pelosi was. She has said, `No money for a wall.’ That’s not the case,” McCarthy said on CNBC Tuesday morning. “The Democrats have now agreed to more than 55 miles of new barrier.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley was more circumspect. “We want to focus on what’s actually in the document. Until we see that, it’s going to be very difficult to have a conversation about what we will and won’t accept,” he said.
The president told reporters that negotiations have not been easy because his administration has faced “a lot of obstruction and tremendous opposition.”
To demonstrate his point, Trump noted that border agents and experts had told the negotiating committee that a barrier or wall was needed above everything else but the committee rejected their expert advice. The president said that “was very revealing.”
“That tells you more than anything else,” he said. Democrat lawmakers also refused to give Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s border security briefing a full hearing last month, according to Republicans who were in on the meeting.
Trump told reporters that he doesn’t think there will be a government shutdown this weekend, but if we do have one, it will be the Democrats’ fault.
“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,” the president said. “But this one, I would never accept if it happens. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. But this would be totally on the Democrats.”
Trump said he was “extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us,” calling their proposals “sad.”
Negotiations hit a wall over the weekend when Democrats proposed reducing the number of ICE detention beds, which former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan said would lead to the creation of a “sanctuary country” with the ultimate goal of “open borders.”
Democrats withdrew the demand late Monday.
“They’re doing the country no favor,” Trump said sadly. “They are hurting our country very badly.”