Trump expected to sign bipartisan funding deal -reports

by Reuters
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 13:34 GMT

(Recasts with media reports of Trump's intention to sign deal)

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Congress faced a tight deadline on Wednesday to pass a bipartisan accord to avert another U.S. government shutdown as news outlets reported President Donald Trump planned to sign the deal as he eyes other ways to fund his wall without lawmakers.

On Wednesday, CNN, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal all reported that Trump intended to sign the measure into law if it passes Congress. Representatives for the White House could not be reached immediately for comment.

Trump on Tuesday, however, did not rule out vetoing the legislation and said he was not happy with the deal, which denies him funds for his U.S.-Mexico border wall. But he also said he did not expect another shutdown.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives could vote as soon as Wednesday evening, a senior aide said, despite not yet having produced a written copy of the agreement reached by congressional negotiators on Monday night.

The accord must also be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and signed by Trump by the midnight Friday expiration of a stopgap measure that ended the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history.

The measure's fate in the House was far from certain given the risk that conservatives and liberals will oppose the compromise for different reasons.

Congressional sources said the deal includes $1.37 billion for new border fencing, about the same as last year - along 55 miles (90 km) of the border - but not the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded to help build his promised border wall.

Senior congressional Republicans, showing little appetite for another shutdown after being heavily criticized for the previous one, urged Trump to support the agreement.

Trump surprised lawmakers when he withdrew support for a previous deal in December and demanded the $5.7 billion in wall funding, opposed by congressional Democrats. That triggered the 35-day shutdown of about a fourth of the federal government that left 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay.

The Washington Post, citing a White House official, said Trump was likely to explore using his executive power to reallocate other federal funds for barrier projects.

CNN, citing the White House, also said Trump was weighing the use of an executive order, among other options.

The president previously threatened to declare a "national emergency" if Congress did not provide money specifically for the wall, an action under which he might redirect other funds already provided by Congress to pay for wall construction.

Fellow Republicans have told Trump such a step would almost certainly draw opposition, both in Congress and in the courts.

Trump made the wall a central 2016 campaign promise, calling it necessary to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He said Mexico would pay for it, but Mexican officials rejected that. Democrats have called a wall expensive, ineffective and immoral. (Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Susan Heavey; Writing by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.