Mitch McConnell Upbeat About Path Forward for Border Funding After Meeting With Trump

Senate majority leader was among Republicans huddling with the president on Thursday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Donald Trump about border security funding on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Returning from a meeting with President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was optimistic about a deal on finishing off remaining spending bills without a shutdown showdown over building a wall at the border with Mexico.

“We had a good discussion about funding the government and the other sort of end-of-year items, and we’re optimistic we’re going to be able to get that done, get the farm bill done and move on toward the conclusion of the session,” McConnell said.

“We talked about border security, and how to resolve all this, and we’re optimistic we have a way forward,” the Kentucky Republican said. “And I’ll tell you when we get it.”

Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, who was with McConnell and incoming GOP Whip John Thune at the White House, declined to get into details of his proposal to address the border security question.

“The president was in a good mood,” Shelby said. “We had a good meeting, as the leader said.”

Much of the discretionary appropriations for fiscal 2019 have already been signed into law, but among the departments waiting for action ahead of a Dec. 7, deadline is the Department of Homeland Security.

Shelby said that he said during the meeting that they should never want a government shutdown, and that Trump did not threaten even a partial shutdown over potentially not getting $5 billion in wall-related appropriations.

“The president didn’t threaten anything. We had a nice discussion,” Shelby said.

The White House, for its part, confirmed the meeting took place.

“The president met with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senators Shelby and Thune in the Oval Office to discuss the lame duck agenda, including the farm bill, government appropriations — including border security — disaster relief funding, nominations, and prison reform,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. 

John T. Bennett contributed to this story.

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