WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump sowed doubts on Tuesday about the pact reached in Congress to avoid another partial shutdown of the government on Feb. 15, the date on which the funding for the operations of about 25 percent of the federal government expires.
“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled. It’s not doing the trick,” Trump told reporters during a White House Cabinet meeting, without providing any further details.
Despite expressing his dissatisfaction with the agreement, Trump said that he does not think another partial government shutdown is going to occur in the near future.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown. If you did have it it’s the Democrats’ fault. I would hope that there won’t be a shutdown,” he told reporters.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers announced on Monday an agreement in principle to avoid a new partial government shutdown on Friday, a deal that includes some financing for a border barrier, or “wall,” as Trump likes to call it.
The pact includes about $1.375 billion to build another 55 miles (about 89 kilometers) of wall along the US-Mexico border, according to The Washington Post, far from the $5.7 billion that Trump had demanded to construct about 200 miles of barrier.
Trump said that he was extremely unhappy with the funding that the Democrats – and Republicans – had agreed to provide.
However, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday applauded the fact that Democratic lawmakers had agreed to appropriate funds for the wall.
“You’ve got to remember where (House Majority Leader) Nancy Pelosi was. She has said, ‘No money for a wall.’ That’s not the case,” McCarthy told CNBC on Tuesday. “The Democrats have now agreed to more than 55 miles of new barrier.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Trump should sign the pact, adding that “These months of shutdown politics must come to an end.”
Lawmakers have been negotiating the deal for weeks after their inability to reach an agreement resulted in a partial government shutdown for 35 days in December and January, the longest-ever such hiatus in certain government activities.
Everything points to the prospect that Trump will ultimately grit his teeth and sign the accord, although on Tuesday he did not rule out declaring a national emergency to reassign military or natural disaster funding to augment the pact’s funds for building the wall.
“I’m considering everything,” the president said when asked about the possibility.
A declaration of this kind, however, would face many lawsuits from progressive organizations and members of the Democratic Party and would become entangled in lengthy court battles.
That is why, various media outlets have reported, that the White House is studying other ways to get the funding Trump wants to erect the barrier.
The president said that he was considering diverting funding from “far less ... important” areas by means of declaring a national emergency by executive order.
According to Politico magazine, Trump could issue an executive order whereby the White House would redirect funds from different budget areas without the approval of Congress.
Two Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects in Northern California and disaster aid funding for California and Puerto Rico are among the programs that Trump is eyeing as potential sources for the funds he wants.
The plan could also access unspent funding for the Defense Department for military construction such as family housing or infrastructure for military bases, according to three sources cited by Politico.
The latest partial government shutdown – which began on Dec. 22 – resulted in about 25 percent of the federal government being paralyzed for 35 days after Trump demanded more funding for border wall construction than Congress was willing to provide.