WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that President Donald Trump would sign the bipartisan, bicameral border-security proposal crafted by the conference committee and declare a national emergency to secure additional funding for his promised wall along the US-Mexico border.
“I’ve just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump and he — I would say to all my colleagues — has indicated he is prepared to sign the bill. He will also be issuing a national-emergency declaration at the same time,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “And I’ve indicated to him that I am going to support the national-emergency declaration.”
Trump, who was initially underwhelmed by the plan, could use the emergency declaration to keep the ball moving on the construction of additional physical barriers along the border.
Shortly after McConnell’s speech, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement that Trump would “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.”
House Republican leadership informed the conference early Wednesday that the White House had signaled that Trump would sign the final bill, according to those present. But many Republicans remained opposed to a deal providing what they view as insufficient funding for a border wall.
In response, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus proposed a continuing resolution. But House Democrats are expected to carry the compromise bill over the finish line.
Trump initially panned the deal, but he said he would not want to see another shutdown like the record closure that left more than 800,000 federal workers without pay for 35 days.
“I can’t say I’m happy,” Trump said on Tuesday. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.”
“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” he added. “If you did have it, it’s the Democrats fault.”
Trump will still take further executive action
The deal includes $1.4 billion for physical barriers, considerably less than the $5.7 billion the White House was hoping for and much less than is needed to build the hundreds of miles of wall along the border that Trump wants. So Trump is expected to take further steps to add funding for the wall by declaring a national emergency.
Republican members of Congress, especially those who have the president’s ear, have urged Trump to use his authority to declare a national emergency and build the wall unilaterally.
“I never expected to get a whole lot more wall money — barrier money,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “So he’ll go the emergency route here pretty soon.”
Graham said Trump would be likely to use multiple methods to compile wall funding, whether through repurposing discretionary funds or declaring a national emergency.
He said the gap between $1.4 billion and $5.7 billion “can be made up in two ways: the reprogramming of money through existing statues, and declaring a national emergency and using that vehicle to find funds.”
“I think he’ll probably do both,” Graham said.
Other Republicans agreed, including Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, one of the appropriators who negotiated the conference-committee deal.
“He still has those other options, whether that’s finding discretionary funds through [the Office of Management and Budget] like he’s talked about, or an emergency declaration like he’s talked about,” Hoeven told INSIDER.
“He still has those options,” he said. “And all along, I felt like this might be more than a one-step process. So this is kind of the first step.”