Facing a midnight on February 15 deadline for avoiding another partial government shutdown, congressional negotiators seem to have reached an agreement on a funding deal. It looks like a pretty clear defeat for the president’s border-wall demands, but it includes some concessions from Democrats on other issues. The bill will quickly be voted upon in both houses, and at this point it’s entirely possible Congress will adjourn and leave town not knowing for sure if Trump will sign it. And that may be deliberate if Trump continues to lie in the weeds, as Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports:
For the last week, all the signals from the White House have indicated a grudging willingness to go along with whatever congressional negotiators agree to, with the caveat that Trump will look elsewhere for border-wall money to “plus up” whatever he can wring from Congress. This will enable him to accept what would otherwise look like an abject surrender, since the border-wall funding in the bill headed his way is less than what was provided in the December bill he refused to sign, touching off the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
But with Trump, a done deal isn’t done until it’s really done. And as Roll Call reports, conservatives are taking to the Fox News airwaves to trash the deal:
The Fox morning show [Fox and Friends], which Trump often live tweets, aired several segments Thursday with conservative figures pointing to what they call poison pills.
Michelle Malkin, a conservative syndicated columnist, said she already had found language she contends would give border-area mayors “veto power” over whether the border barrier — or fence, as the legislation calls it — could be built in their cities.
She also panned the bill for failing to overhaul the country’s asylum laws and failing to adequately fund an increase in immigration judges to process additional cases — something Trump has repeatedly called for.
Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach appeared on the program to warn that Democrats have likely loaded the bill with things to which Trump will object.
The most authoritative source for determining the president’s leanings, his Twitter account, has been very noncommittal:
Another potential source of last-minute presidential heartburn is the deal’s compromise over ICE detention beds, which cuts current funding without going quite as far as Democrats as demanded.
Even if the bill sails through both houses of Congress (as everyone expects) and then Trump signs it, there are areas where Democrats didn’t get what they wanted. Most notably, Republicans refused to include back pay for federal contractors (as opposed to federal employees) who went unpaid during the earlier shutdown. This could be addressed in separate legislation, but some feel this represented an unexploited political opportunity for Democrats:
The bill also did not include an expected extension of funding for the programs associated with the Violence Against Women Act, but in this case Democrats preferred to push for a more extensive reauthorization in separate legislation.
It does appear that the funding bill is rapidly approaching take-it-or-leave-it territory, so Team Trump may be “reviewing” it to determine the spin he places on whatever he decides to do rather than considering the decision itself. A second government shutdown seems unlikely. But if you own a farm, don’t bet it on any outcome just yet.