It’s looking less likely that the government will shut down again, as Congress is expected to quickly pass a package of bills funding federal agencies, and Donald Trump is signaling he’ll sign it … unless he’s having a temper tantrum that day, anyway. But Trump is also planning to use executive action to divert additional money to his useless border wall.
The deal, which congressional negotiators reached on Monday night, provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new border fencing—not wall, and not the $5.7 billion Trump had demanded. Trump changed his story a couple times on Tuesday, first saying, “Am I happy at first glance? The answer is no, I’m not, I’m not happy,” before later turning around to praise “hard-working” lead Republican negotiator Sen. Richard Shelby and brag about the overall border security funding levels. Extremist Republicans similarly signaled unhappiness but resignation, with Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows saying “I think he will [sign it] reluctantly. And then obviously have to use executive actions to secure our borders.”
Trump’s first play for justifying signing a bill with less border barrier funding than the one he previously rejected, though, is pretending that “the Wall is being built.” Anything but admitting that the shutdown was a giant loss for him (if not as much so as for the millions of people he victimized). But, as Meadows said, he’s not done, given the developing plan to take existing funds and shift them to border wall building. Some Republicans are pointing to $881 million in military funding specifically for road and fence construction to fight drug smuggling, but the White House is reportedly not interested in stopping there, with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney having his eye on other military construction money and disaster relief funds intended for California and Puerto Rico.