Trump ‘extremely unhappy’ with shutdown deal, keeping options open to build wall

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By Dartunorro Clark, Allan Smith and Hallie Jackson

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is “extremely unhappy” with the bipartisan deal lawmakers reached to avert a government shutdown this week that provides money for a southern border fence, but he vowed to build a border wall anyway.

“I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It’s sad. They’re doing the country no favors. They’re hurting our country very badly. But we certainly don’t want to see a shutdown.”

Trump added that he is considering all options to fund his proposed border wall. A White House official told NBC News earlier Tuesday that even if Trump signs off on the agreement reached Monday night to keep the government open, other options were on the table to build a more substantial barrier.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted Tuesday that Trump “should take executive action” to secure the border.

Feb. 12, 201901:28

Trump also said Tuesday that he didn’t think there would be another government shutdown this Friday, which would come on the heels of the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. But “if you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault,” he said.

“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,” Trump added. “I accept it — I’ve always accepted it. 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.”

The deal that Democrats in Congress agreed to, however, includes billions for Department of Homeland Security priorities like new technology and more customs officers as well as the border barrier.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday on the Senate floor that the government spending agreement was “a path forward for our country,” adding, “I strongly urge President Trump to sign this agreement.”

Trump gave no indication Tuesday of whether he would sign the spending measure.

The government is set to run out of money again on Friday after having been partially shut down for 35 days. That shutdown occurred because lawmakers did not provide Trump with his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. But Trump eventually relented and signed a short-term funding package that expires in days.

Over the weekend, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the administration would secure the border, one way or another.

“We’ll take as much money as you can give us,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to Congress, “and then we will go off and find the money someplace else legally in order to secure that southern barrier.”

Mulvaney added Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that regardless of what money lawmakers provide, Trump will “do whatever he legally can to secure that border.”

On Monday night, a bipartisan group of congressional negotiators announced they had reached an “agreement in principle” to avert another shutdown and further fund border security, though it would not include money for a concrete wall.

The agreement would provide nearly $1.4 billion for new border fencing, which could include steel slats and other “existing technologies,” and an additional $1.7 billion for other Homeland Security priorities like new technology and more customs personnel, multiple sources told NBC News. The deal funds about 55 miles of new border barrier, and Democrats dropped a demand to cap the number of beds for undocumented immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that the bipartisan group “put together a deal that we think is fair, that represents our values and will do the job.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the agreement “good news” on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.

“I look forward to reviewing the full text as soon as possible, and hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order,” McConnell said.

But some of Trump’s allies were apoplectic about the agreement.

“$1.3 billion? That’s not … even a wall, a barrier,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his program Monday, asking how any Republican could support “this garbage compromise.”

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter criticized Trump on Twitter for what she claimed was his unwillingness to fight for a wall.

“Trump talks a good game on the border wall, but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it,” Coulter wrote Tuesday. “Call this his ‘Yellow New Deal.'”

Marianna Sotomayor, Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V contributed.

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