- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

President Trump said Tuesday he’s not pleased with the deal negotiators reached to give him nearly $1.4 billion in border wall money and funding for 42,000 beds to detain illegal immigrants.

“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” the president said during a meeting with his Cabinet.

He said he’s “adding things” to the deal outline — though it was not clear what, exactly he meant by that. He said he’s always trying to negotiate.

But the president seemed to signal that he might accept the deal, then try to flex his powers by going around Congress.

In particular, he said he’s still considering using an emergency declaration to pursue wall construction.

“I consider everything,” he said.

The president is likely to be the key figure in whether Congress gets behind the new deal struck by four negotiators late Monday.

His rejection of a deal in December plunged dozens of departments and agencies into a 35-day shutdown that only ended last month after all sides agreed to talk about a way forward on the president’s demand for border wall money.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he doubts there will be a shutdown now — though he pointedly added, “If you did have it, it’s the Democrats fault.”

He had been seeking $5.7 billion in wall money, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there wouldn’t be any money at all for a wall.

The four negotiators — two Democrats and two Republicans — appear to have settled on $1.375 billion that will build dozens of miles of new barriers and other fencing and vehicle barriers that are out-of-date. But the designs and locations face some restrictions.

Democrats during the talks threw up a last-minute roadblock with demands to limit the number of detention beds available to hold illegal immigrants for deportation.

The negotiators appear to have struck a deal for funding more than 40,000 beds on average, but it’s not yet clear whether that will force ICE to release people to come down to that number.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is currently holding nearly 49,000 migrants in custody, and has averaged nearly 46,000 a day through the first four months of the fiscal year.

Democrats wanted to cut the number to 34,000.

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