Trump might consider other options to build wall even if he signs spending deal, White House official says

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at El Paso County
President Donald Trump speaks at El Paso County Coliseum in Texas on Feb. 11, 2019. Copyright Leah Millis Reuters
Copyright Leah Millis Reuters
By Allan Smith and Rebecca Shabad with NBC News Politics
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On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reached an agreement on border security to keep the government open past Friday.


Even if President Donald Trump signs off on a newly reached bipartisan agreement to keep the government open that does not provide what he has sought in border wall funding, other options are still on the table to build a more substantial barrier, a White House official tells NBC News.

The White House is considering using executive action to redirect federal funding to build a larger barrier at the U.S. southern border than what Congress agreed upon Monday night. And, separately, Trump has kept the door open to declaring a national emergency to fund the wall, which would likely draw legal challenges.

The government is set to run out of funding again later this week after having been partially shut down for 35 days earlier this year — the longest shutdown in U.S. history. That shutdown occurred because lawmakers did not provide Trump with his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. But Trump eventually relented and signed a short term funding package, set to expire Friday.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of congressional negotiators announced they reached an "agreement in principle" to avert another shutdown and further fund border security, though it would not include money for a concrete wall. The agreement would provide nearly $1.4 billion for new border fencing, which could include steel slats and other "existing technologies," and an additional $1.7 billion for other Homeland Security priorities like new technology and more customs officers, multiple sources told NBC News. The deal funds about 55 miles of new border barrier.

"We reached an agreement in principle," Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters. "Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to be putting all the details together, and that's all we can tell you now."

Democrats dropped a demand to cap the number of beds for undocumented immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Well, we put together a deal that we think is fair, that represents our values and will do the job," House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it was "certainly good news" that negotiators had reached an agreement.

"I look forward to reviewing the full text as soon as possible, and hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order," McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Speaking with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday, Trump said he could not go into the details of the agreement, which was reached just prior to his interview.

But some of Trump's allies were apoplectic about the agreement. Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his Monday program that the deal was trash.

"$1.3 billion? That's not ... even a wall, a barrier," he said, asking how any Republican could support "this garbage compromise."

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