Perhaps not, but more importantly, neither does Donald Trump assert he’ll oppose the deal reached by congressional negotiators last night. In a press avail at the start of a Cabinet meeting, Trump expressed his unhappiness with the budget deal, telling reporters, “I can’t say I’m thrilled.” However, Trump also emphasized that “we can’t have another shutdown,” and asserted that he would start “supplementing” the bill’s funding on his own.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” Trump added. “If you have one, it’s the Democrats’ fault”:
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s “unhappy” with a hard-won agreement to prevent a new government shutdown and finance construction of more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, but he didn’t say he wouldn’t sign the measure. GOP congressional leaders swung behind the proposed deal, selling it as a necessary compromise.
Trump said he doesn’t believe there will be a shutdown, which could have hit hundreds of thousands of federal workers again this weekend. “Everything” is on the table, he said at the White House, but “we certainly don’t want to see a shutdown.”
He said he needs to look further at the agreement, which would grant far less than the $5.7 billion he wants for a long wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” he said. But one way or another, he said, “the wall’s getting built.”
Many will assume that a lack of initial outright opposition to the bill means Trump will end up signing it. That’s the prevailing sentiment in the Beltway, Politico’s Jake Sherman reports, and it’s a rational analysis — but it ignores Trump’s history on such budget deals. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell assumed they had a similar buy-in on an omnibus bill eleven months ago, only to have an angry Trump initially pull the rug out from under them for not including border-wall funding. Trump eventually backed down, but not before he swore that “never again” would he sign another omnibus bill without significant funding for the wall.
The lesson: never assume Trump’s on board until his signature’s on the bill. Sherman wisely suggests that Trump’s decision might rest on which chamber passes the bill, and by how much:
KEEP AN EYE OUT for a low House GOP vote total, if Trump isn’t pleased.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT … If the Senate goes first and puts up 70-something votes, it becomes a bit easier in the House. Trump is saying he’s unhappy at the moment. If he moves to “I’ll veto this,” it gets trickier in the House.
Note well one other curiosity from this statement. Trump didn’t bother to claim victory for getting any barrier funding from Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats. That argument is available as a way to dress up his eventual acquiescence to the deal, but the time to set that marker is now, not later. The lack of that argument makes it easier for Trump to change his mind and threaten a veto, even if that would put the shutdown on him rather than the Democrats, as he declared in this statement.
As Yogi Berra once observed, It ain’t over ’til it’s over. Just ask Paul Ryan, who must be thrilled to be in retirement.
Update: On this one, though, Mark Meadows is definitely in the glass-half-empty group:
Rep. Mark Meadows predicts the president will sign the compromise bill – said the Freedom Caucus doesn’t have leverage to “go to the mat” on the shutdown.
— Jackie Kucinich (@JFKucinich) February 12, 2019
That happens when you’re a minority within the minority.