WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — President Donald Trump will sign a compromise appropriations bill necessary to prevent another partial government shutdown, but--signaling his displeasure with the lack of border wall funding in the legislation--he will declare a national emergency at the border at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Thursday.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Trump has long threatened to make the dramatic declaration, which is sure to face legal and political challenges, to authorize shifting funds from other government programs to fund border wall construction. The dispute over his demand for $5.7 billion to begin work on the wall led to a five-week shutdown of about a quarter of the government.
The 1,200-page bill worked out by a bipartisan committee of appropriators from the House and Senate over the last three weeks provides funding for the Department of Homeland Security and several other agencies through the end of the fiscal year. However, it includes less than $1.4 billion for border fencing.
“The appropriators in parties deserve credit for a demonstration of the kind of progress which can be made when both parties on Capitol Hill come to the table,” said Richard Arenberg, a longtime congressional senior staffer and author of “Congressional Procedure: A Practical Guide to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress.”
For the most part, it seems so.
According to Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the bill provides investments in border protection Democrats wholly support, including investments in technology and ensuring ports of entry are adequately staffed.
“This does what it needs to do to keep our government open providing services and addressing funding for our homeland security,” Horsford said.
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said the deal was a good compromise that protects 800,000 federal workers from the uncertainty of another shutdown.
“In the end, neither side gets everything it wants but you don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Bishop said.
Some are disappointed. Others are looking for the bright side.
“It’s a step forward, but it’s not as much of a step forward as we need to make in order to do the job for the American people,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.
Trump had demanded $5.7 billion for a border wall, but as many Republicans on Capitol Hill emphasized Wednesday, $1.375 billion is better than nothing.
“This is a good compromise,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. “This is over a billion more than Nancy Pelosi said she was going to allow the president to spend on a border structure.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., argued the investment in barriers and border security technology adds up to about $3 billion, which is about half of what Trump sought.
“If you think about it, 40 percent of our fiscal year is completed,” he said. “You’re getting almost half of what the president asked for. It’s not perfect but it’s better than a continuing resolution.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., admitted the border barrier funding is less than he or the president would have liked, but he still framed it as a victory in part because it left Trump open to declare a national emergency.
“Just a few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi said only one dollar for the wall,” he said. “We got 1.4 billion. But the president also has some more tools in the toolbox where he can grab other money, make sure the wall is totally finished. We want to make sure we have enough beds so criminals are not released into society, and we want to make sure ICE is funded. These are three things Democrats did not want to see happen and I believe we were able to secure that.”