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Trump Puts Best Face on Border Deal, as Aides Try to Assuage an Angry Right

Category: Political News,Politics

In his budget request for this year, Mr. Trump asked for $1.6 billion and the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed on a bipartisan basis to give him that last summer. But the measure stalled until after the midterm election. By the time Mr. Trump met with Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, in December, they offered $1.375 billion. The president then insisted on $5.7 billion and when he did not get it, much of the government was left without the funding to keep doors open.

During the shutdown, Ms. Pelosi took an even harder line, saying she would not spend a single dollar on Mr. Trump’s wall, although she said she would provide money for other border security.

The deal reached this week returned to the same $1.375 billion available in December to pay for 55 miles of fencing along the border, although not walls based on the new steel or concrete prototypes Mr. Trump has promoted.

Mr. Trump and his aides claimed victory because they had gotten more than Ms. Pelosi’s zero dollars and they noted that the agreement also included $23 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, an increase from $21 billion last year. But Democrats said much of the increase would go to their priorities like more customs agents and humanitarian aid, not Mr. Trump’s.

Either way, Mr. Trump’s aides are now focused on finding pots of money that, with the president’s traditional discretion, can be reprogrammed toward the wall. If that is not enough, he could still declare a national emergency to bypass Congress, although such a move is opposed by many Republicans and would invariably draw a court challenge.

As a result, some supporters of tougher border security said Mr. Trump’s critics should not crow because the struggle is not over.

“People say, well the president lost,” said James Jay Carafano, a national security analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “The analogy here is if it’s a ten-round fight, Trump’s fighting ten rounds. If Pelosi wants to say at the end of round one, ‘I won that round,’ Trump’s like, ‘Yeah, maybe, but I’m fighting 10 rounds.’”

Andy Surabian, a former Trump White House aide, said the details do not matter to the president’s base as much as his determination to fulfill his promise. “His supporters don’t care about how the rest of the wall is built,” he said. “They just care that the wall is ultimately built.”

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