As Republicans Press Trump to Sign Border Deal, He Thanks Them for Dealing With 'Radical Left'

By Susan Jones | February 13, 2019 | 6:13am EST
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

( - In a late night tweet Tuesday, President Trump thanked the Republicans who negotiated a border security deal he does not like -- but which Republican leaders are urging him to sign:

"I want to thank all Republicans for the work you have done in dealing with the Radical Left on Border Security. Not an easy task, but the Wall is being built and will be a great achievement and contributor toward life and safety within our Country!"

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "Was just presented the concept and parameters of the Border Security Deal by hard working Senator Richard Shelby. Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources....Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!"

Also on Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, "I’m not happy about it (the border deal). It’s not doing the trick, but I’m adding things to it, and when you add whatever I have to add, it’s all going to happen where we’re going to build a beautiful, big, strong wall that’s not going to let criminals and traffickers and drug dealers and drugs into our country.”

At a Tuesday news conference, Senate Republican leaders urged Trump to sign the bill, which gives him only $1.375 billion for barrier construction, far less than the $5.7 billion he requested.

Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he thinks Shelby and Democrat negotiators "on a bipartisan basis have done a good job."

He and other Republicans painted the deal in a positive light:


"I think he's got a pretty good deal here, you know?" McConnell said. "The speaker said there wouldn't be a dollar for a wall. Well, I guess we're going to have an argument now about what's a wall, but barriers. And they wanted a cap on detention apprehension. So you know, I think he's done just fine. I hope he'll conclude that because he's got to sign the bill."

McConnell admitted, "It's not everything the president hoped to get, but I think it's a good step in the right direction. I hope he'll decide to sign it. We're all quite interested in that, as you can imagine."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the lead Republican negotiator on border security, called the deal a "down-payment."

"I didn't get everything I wanted out of this, but I think overall, considering that we're dealing with a Republican Senate, a Republican president and a Democratic House, this is a down payment on where the president wants to go and where we want to go with him, that is to secure the borders of the United States."

Shelby said both sides made concessions, and he said more details will emerge when the actual bill is filed on Wednesday (today).

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said "on balance," the bill "does represent the best that could be achieved. It is a down payment on wall funding, and there is going to be physical barrier that's constructed with this in addition to the other elements of border security funding. So hopefully, as we get the legislative text, we'll be able to continue the discussion that we have with the members of our conference, and we'll look forward to doing that."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) urged President Trump to consider the bill "as it unfolds."

"But it is exciting to finally come to a sense of an agreement," she said. "One thing that is very fortunate is the fact that we are not seeing caps on detention of those illegals that are in the country that have committed crimes," Ernst said.

And finally, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) commended the Republican negotiators:

"It was just days ago that a number of Democrats were going into that negotiation indicating absolutely no money whatsoever for a wall. There are significant resources, as I understand it, that will be dedicated towards wall construction. I also heard that there would be arbitrary caps placed on the number of ICE detention beds, thus leading to more criminals coming into the United States and remaining in the United States. That also is something where Chairman Shelby and the other negotiators were able to get some movement from the other side.

"Lastly," Todd continue, "the government, under this construct, would remain open--that's a good thing--so that Republicans can continue to do good things here in the U.S. Senate, like confirming more of the judges that our president has nominated for office. So there is a lot that I've heard that I like."

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