Here are three things we know about President Donald Trump’s views of the deal cut by Congress to keep the government open and resolve the ongoing battle over border wall funding:
1. He isn’t a fan of the compromise. “Am I happy? The answer is no, I’m not,” Trump said, answering his own question on Tuesday. “I’m not happy.”
2. He may well sign the bill anyway. “I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” Trump told reporters.
3. He hasn’t ruled out declaring a national emergency to get more of what he wants. “I’m adding things to it,” Trump said. “It’s all going to happen, where we’re going to build a beautiful, big, strong wall.”
This is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment for Trump. The compromise legislation doles out $1.375 billion for increased border barriers. Trump has said repeatedly that he needs $5.7 billion. There’s a $4.3 billion gap there, a gap that maybe just maybe Trump decides to fill via an emergency declaration sometime after he signs the compromise legislation to keep the government running.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump advocate, certainly thinks that’s the way to go. “Absolutely,” replied Graham when asked Tuesday by CNN whether Trump still needs to declare a national emergency if he signs the compromise.
“The difference between what we appropriate and $5.7 (billion), that delta, he’ll have to find on his own,” added Graham. “I think in two ways he can basically have some authority without a national emergency to reprogram money and the other ways declare a national emergency and move money around. I think he’ll do both.”
You can see the appeal of, in Graham’s words, doing both. Keeping the government open will sate the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who was apoplectic during the recent 35-day government shutdown. Using his emergency powers to secure the money Trump believes he needs to build the wall would make his base very happy.
The question is, how much hell are House Democrats willing to raise over it? (As Michael Warren notes, they could raise a good amount of hell.) The other big question is whether Senate Republicans are willing to go along with an emergency declaration as long as the government stays open.
The Point: Trump is Trump, meaning all of this could change by tomorrow — or even tonight. But you rarely get everything you want in politics — and I have to believe this border shutdown is no exception.