Trump signals preference for second shutdown over Congress’ compromise

The president said he will build the wall even if Congress doesn’t give him the money, simultaneously suggesting he was ready to trigger another shutdown.

Donald Trump speaks during a rally in El Paso, Texas on Monday, while supporters hold contradictory signs.
Trump and his supporters are already attacking the bipartisan deal to avert a second shutdown. (PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The bipartisan congressional conference committee tasked with funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year and averting a second partial shutdown reached an agreement in principle on Monday night, which would allocate $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The deal would also reduce, but not cap, the number of undocumented individuals Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can detain through the end of fiscal year 2019.

President Donald Trump and his most conservative supporters are already suggesting he could veto the bill could and trigger another shutdown once the deadline hits on Friday night.

The conference committee deal, once finalized, would need to pass both the House and Senate. If Trump does not sign the bill, it would require two-thirds support in both chambers for a veto override. If enacted, it would ensure the government remains funded through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.


Without action by Friday, the same 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed or forced to work without pay during the most recent, record-long shutdown would be back in the same position again.

At a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, Trump pooh-poohed the agreement, saying he would oppose detention bed caps and would never sign a bill that “forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country.”

“As I was walking up to the stage, they said that progress is being made with this committee. Just so you know we’re building the wall anyway,” he said.

Trump then boasted that he had decided to address the campaign-style rally without actually being briefed on the deal first. “I said wait a minute. I got to take care of my people from Texas. I got to go. I don’t even want to hear about it. I don’t want to hear. So I don’t know what they mean ‘progress is being made,'” he said.

The administration has claimed it doesn’t need the $1.375 billion to build the president’s proposed wall, and that Trump could divert funds from other civil works projects and recovery efforts in places like California and Puerto Rico to fund the project, though the legality of such a move is still in question.


Within minutes of the deal’s announcement, several of the president’s staunchest supporters ripped the bipartisan agreement and effectively endorsed another shutdown.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, who shares a chummy relationship with the president and whose show the president watches frequently, called the deal a “garbage compromise.”

“Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain [your decision],” he said.

House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also told The Washington Post the deal “does not represent a fraction of what the president has promised the American people. I don’t speak for the president but I can’t imagine he will be applauding something so lacking.”

Meadows in December backed Trump’s decision to reject a previous bipartisan continuing resolution, saying he would “be there to support you” and calling on Congress to “build the wall and make sure that we do our job.”

It is difficult to know what Trump might actually do next. Last year, he suggested he would oppose a bipartisan spending agreement before ultimately signing it. Then, in December, he agreed to the aforementioned bipartisan CR, then changed his mind and blocked it, shutting down the government for weeks in the process before eventually caving and agreeing to a three-week agreement similar to the one he had blocked.


The Post noted Tuesday that the deal Trump rejected in late 2018 would have actually given him more border wall funds than the current deal, signaling how much political leverage he has lost since the House Democratic majority took over in January.