Trump says he has ‘a lot of options’ to secure his border wall funds

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Trump says he has ‘a lot of options’ to secure his border wall funds




Donald Trump

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing,” President Donald Trump said, adding later that “there’s no reason” for a second shutdown in as many months. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

President Donald Trump wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he will sign a bipartisan border security deal reached this week but hinted he would move to unilaterally secure funding for his long-promised border wall, telling reporters that “regardless of what I do … I have a lot of options.”

As the federal funding deadline at the end of the week inches closer, the president reiterated Wednesday he wanted to avoid another government shutdown.

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“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing,” he said, adding later that “there’s no reason” for a second shutdown in as many months.

Earlier on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was noncommittal about what Trump would do with the border deal once it reaches his desk, maintaining in an interview with “Fox & Friends” that Trump wanted to see the text of the final deal first.

“The president wants to see what final package looks like and he’ll make a decision at that point,” Sanders said, noting that lawmakers are “still tinkering and making edits to that legislation and once we see what the final piece looks like the president can make that decision.”

The president emphasized that point, telling reporters he would review the text for “land mines” once he received it.

Trump said Tuesday that he was “not happy” with the agreement reached by the conference committee, but he also told reporters that “I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown” when government funding runs out on Friday night.

Legislators announced Monday night that they’d reached a deal in principle on border spending, but as they’ve worked to translate the broader agreement into legislative text, there have been hiccups over the finer points of the bill. The text of the spending bill was still being finalized Wednesday afternoon, with a House vote expected on Thursday.

Still, the White House has sought to spin the topline details of the deal into a win for the president.

Trump on Wednesday framed the compromise as a hard-earned victory by GOP negotiators, who he praised for “really going against a radical left” who had been “stingy” about wall funding. The president touted an increase in the overall funding level for the Department of Homeland Security, which he said was boosted by 8 percent to $23 billion.

Lawmakers’ compromise package would provide more than $1.3 billion for a physical barrier along part of the U.S.-Mexico border, significantly less than the president’s demand of $5.7 billion. But Sanders pointed out that House Speaker “Nancy Pelosi said she wasn’t going to give a dollar for the wall,” though it’s unclear whether the barrier money lawmakers agreed to could be considered a wall.

She also pointed to concessions by Democrats on their efforts to limit the number of beds for detained migrants at the disposal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Democrats sought to limit the number of beds to around 16,000 but the final package would contain funding for more than twice that amount.

Sanders also strongly hinted that whatever Trump thought about the border security package, he could ultimately act unilaterally to supplement the funding in that deal by diverting money from elsewhere in the government.

“Like the president himself said yesterday, he’s not happy about it, but he’s okay because he’s going to get the job done no matter what,” she said. “He’s got alternative options. And he’s going to keep those on the table again we’ll see what the final package looks like and the president will make a determination on whether or not he is going to sign it.”

“The president and his team have been looking at every option possible to get the full funding they need in order to complete the wall,” Sanders added, though any executive action on the part of the president would likely face immediate challenges in court.

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