White House

Trump: ‘A shutdown would be a terrible thing’

But president says he’s looking for ‘land mines’ in deal with Democrats

President Donald Trump talks to reporters during a meeting of his cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House Feb. 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to be inching toward supporting a compromise border security spending measure, saying another government shutdown would be “terrible.”

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing,” he said in the Oval Office alongside his Colombian counterpart.

Asked if he will sign the spending legislation as a Friday 11:59 p.m. deadline quickly approaches, Trump did not signal he is poised to oppose it. But he did send a warning shot across the bow of the Democratic lawmakers involved in putting a handshake agreement on paper, saying he is concerned they might slip in so-called “poison pill” policy riders that run counter to his conservative agenda.

“We haven’t gotten it yet. We’ll be getting it, and we’ll be looking for land mines,” he said.

As always, the president could not resist taking a shot at the opposition party, saying Democrats are too “stingy” when it comes to providing monies for his proposed southern border barrier. Some Senate Democrats have supported $1.6 billion before, and the compromise legislation hammered out by a House-Senate panel includes just under $1.4 billion.

Should he sign the bill scheduled for its first votes Thursday in the House, Trump and his top aides say he likely will then use one or more executive powers to attempt to access even more dollars for the wall.

“We have options that most people don’t understand," he said.

The White House had signaled earlier Wednesday that Trump was inclined to sign the deal and then use executive powers to access additional funds for his proposed southern border wall.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not resist the notion that Trump is leaning toward signing a package that would give him just under $1.4 billion for the barrier project even though it is far less than his $5.7 billion demand. She noted, as her boss said Tuesday, that he is not thrilled with the emerging legislation but also described him as “okay” with the path ahead.

“But he’s okay because he’s going to get the job done, no matter what,” Sanders told Fox News. “You can rest assured the president said he was going to build a wall, and he’s going to deliver.”

[Trump on border deal: ‘I can’t say I’m thrilled’]

Citing two people who have spoken with the president, CNN reported Wednesday morning that Trump has said he will sign the bill. The recent 35-day partial government shutdown was politically damaging for Trump and he appears inclined to avoid a repeat.

Sanders: ‘At the end of the day the president is going to build the wall’

But the president has demonstrated that things could change quickly — his top spokeswoman said he and White House officials still want to see the final legislative text.

“They’re still tinkering and making edits to that legislation and once we see what the final piece looks like, the president can make that decision,” she said, referring to the House-Senate panel that crafted the border deal.

Sanders also offered a preview of the Trump team’s messaging if he does sign the package by painting Speaker Nancy Pelosi as having given more ground than Trump.

[Trump pre-empts border wall pitch in El Paso to take shots at Beto O’Rourke]

“This has made some progress,” she said. “Nancy Pelosi said she wasn’t going to give a dollar for the wall. This has roughly $1.4 billion that’ll go towards the wall.”

Watch: What is a national emergency? How Congress gave the White House broad, far-reaching powers

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