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Congress readies for vote on border deal

Image: The Capitol in Washington on Feb. 5, 2019.
Trump has said he is not "happy" with the funding agreement, though he has been expected to sign it into law. Copyright Zach Gibson Getty Images file
Copyright Zach Gibson Getty Images file
By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe and Frank Thorp V and Marianna Sotomayor with NBC News Politics
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Trump — who said Thursday that he was "reviewing" the measure — has said he is not "happy" with the agreement, though he has been expected to sign it.


WASHINGTON — The House and Senate were poised to pass a government spending package on Thursday following bipartisan negotiations over border security — with several Republican senators saying they "pray" President Donald Trump signs it into law, averting another government shutdown on Friday.

The Senate is expected to act first on the 1,159-page bill, which was released just after midnight. The House will likely vote later in the evening, ahead of the Friday night deadline to prevent another partial government shutdown.

Trump has said he is not "happy" with the measure, though he has been expected to sign it. "Reviewing the funding bill with my team at the @WhiteHouse!" he tweeted Thursday afternoon, ahead of the Senate vote.

The bill would provide $1.375 billion for 55 miles of pedestrian and levee fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, significantly less than Trump's $5.7 billion request. It also prohibits the use of a concrete wall or other Trump prototypes and specifies that only "existing technologies" for fencing and barriers can be used.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., defended the agreement, saying that "no side will view this as a perfect deal," but he said it is "something both sides should view as an important step. And today, I hope we will vote to advance it."

"When the Senate votes on the agreement, we'll be voting to avoid a second partial shutdown and provide the certainty of a fully-functioning federal government," McConnell continued.

Senate Republicans have publicly urged Trump to sign the deal once it receives congressional approval. NBC News reported earlier this week that they anticipate the president will sign it, though he has not said publicly that he would do so.

After the Senate chaplain delivered the opening prayer on the Senate floor, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chimed in: "I pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn't shut down."

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who helped negotiate the deal, said he had told Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that it should be viewed as a "down payment" to fund border security.

Once the bill passes the Senate, it will be taken up by the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass.

In addition to funding the Department of Homeland Security, the bill would also fund eight other federal departments including Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury.

Notably, the agreement excludes an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, which Republicans wanted to include but Democrats insisted on passing a more comprehensive reauthorization of the program later this year.

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