Shortly before President Donald Trump appeared at his rally in El Paso Monday night to draw attention to his $5.7 billion border wall project, he was told that congressional negotiators had reached a deal to avert another government shutdown. That, according to a New York Times report. The deal includes a compromise over border security: 55 miles of fencing, with some stipulations.
But the president didn’t exactly welcome the news. In a televised interview with Fox News minutes before his speech, the Times reports he grudgingly acknowledged that there might be some agreement, but told the Fox interviewer, “I don’t even want to hear about it.”
Emily Cochrane is a congressional reporter for the Times, and says the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees came up with an agreement Monday after three separate meetings. But that the deal is still in its early stages.
“They reached something in principle. There is not yet text and they have not shown it,” Cochrane says. “My understanding is the rest of the committee has not necessarily signed off on all of it. And the bill has to get signed by the House, the Senate and eventually the president for it to actually prevent a government shutdown.”
Cochrane says the deal includes $1.3 billion for 55 miles of “bollard fencing” at parts of the Southwestern U.S. border. It’s far less than the 200 miles of border barrier Trump had initially asked for.
“It’s certainly not what the president would have wanted,” Cochrane says.
She says the president seemed excited Monday night to connect with his base of political supporters at his first campaign rally of the year, even though advisers had warned him that his border wall deal may fall through.
“He was content to speak to his people and sell his case,” Cochrane says.
She says the four lawmakers who worked out the deal seemed confident that the president would ultimately approve it. That’s because she says they all want to avoid the damage that could come from another government shutdown.
“The shutdown that we just saw end was so damaging to the economy and to the American people,” Cochrane says.
But she says the Pentagon, for example, is preparing in case the president doesn’t sign the agreement.
“[It] was readying for either a shutdown or the president to declare a national emergency to get his wall funding,” Cochrane says. “There’s hope but certainly not a guarantee.”
Written by Caroline Covington.