Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, panned the tentative border security agreement hammered out by congressional negotiators and said that President Trump should supplement the deal with executive action.
“I don’t support [the agreement] and I don’t like it,” Meadows told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Tuesday. “Only in Washington D.C. can we start out with needing $25 billion for border security measures and expect applause at $1.37 [billion]. I mean, only in D.C. is that a winning deal.”
Meadows said that he expects Trump to sign the spending agreement into law in order to avert a second partial government shutdown this year, but added that “I expect him to follow up with some type of executive action, whether that’s a national emergency or some of the other tools in his toolbox.”
The proposed measure, which would fund several key government agencies through Sept. 30, calls for $1.37 billion to be used for the construction of new barriers along 55 miles of the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S.-Mexico border. The pact includes money for other border security measures, including advanced screening at border entry points and customs officers. It also drops Democratic demands to severely curtail detentions of immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally.
“I’m disappointed in Congress,” Meadows said of the agreement. “Once again, we’ve failed to do what we’ve promised the American people we would do: appropriate an amount of money to secure our southern border. We’ve kicked the can down the road.”
At the White House earlier Tuesday, President Trump said he was “not happy” with the tentative deal “at first glance,” but did not say whether he would reject it. The White House had demanded $5.7 billion for a border wall and raised the prospect of Trump diverting money from the federal budget to provide additional funding.
“I’m thrilled because we’re supplementing things and moving things around,” Trump said. “And we’re doing things that are fantastic and taking from far less — really from far less important areas. And the bottom line is we’re building a lot of wall. Right now, we’re building a lot of wall.”
Under Article I of the Constitution, Trump would need the House and Senate appropriations committees to approve any internal reallocation of funding. Sources tell Fox News that while the president could try to go around Congress in an executive order, but that would likely draw a legal challenge from congressional Democrats over the legislative branch’s constitutional power of the purse.
“Based on the conversations with rank-and-file members, both on the conference and those that have had discussions with conferees, I am not optimistic that we’re going to be able to be able to secure the border with this measure,” Meadows said. “That is why it will require the president to take some type of executive action, and hopefully, we will do that.”
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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told Fox News that the House could vote on the border security package as early as Wednesday. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said Republican appropriators gave the measure a “mostly affirmative response.”
Granger told Fox News it shouldn’t be a problem for GOP appropriators to sign off on the report, adding: “We had more wins than losses.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.