US President Donald Trump has said that the odds congressional negotiators will craft a deal to end his border wall standoff with Congress are “less than 50-50”.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday that he does not think the negotiators will strike a deal that he would accept. He pledged to build a wall anyway using his executive powers to declare a national emergency if necessary.
“I personally think it’s less than 50-50, but you have a lot of very good people on that board,” Trump said, referring to the likelihood of compromise from the bipartisan committee of congressional negotiators that will consider border spending as part of the legislative process.
A 35-day partial government shutdown temporarily ended on Friday when Trump retreated from his demand that Congress commit to funding a wall at the US-Mexico border before federal agencies could resume work.
The bill he signed will fund the government until February 15 without providing the money Trump wanted for a barrier, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called “immoral” and has insisted Congress will not finance.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump agreed to temporarily end the shutdown because some Democrats have stepped forward, publicly and privately, to say they agree with Trump’s plan to better secure the border.
“Everybody wants to look at this and say the president lost,” Mulvaney said. “We’re still in the middle of negotiations.”
Is Trump prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?
“Yeah, I think he actually is,” Mulvaney said. “He doesn’t want to shut the government down, let’s make that very clear. He doesn’t want to declare a national emergency.”
But Mulvaney said that at “the end of the day, the president’s commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it with or without Congress”.
The linchpin in the standoff is Trump’s demand for $5.7bn for his border wall, a project Democrats consider an ineffective, wasteful monument to a ridiculous Trump campaign promise.
Asked if he would be willing to accept less than $5.7bn to build a barrier on the southern border, Trump replied: “I doubt it.” He added: “I have to do it right.”
He also said he would be wary of any proposed deal that exchanged funds for a wall for broad immigration reform. And when asked if he would agree to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the US as children, he again replied, “I doubt it.”