After a grueling day of defending a proposed budget deal that would fund the government through Sept. 30, White House officials were eager to blast Democrats and the media on Tuesday afternoon — and claim the bargain does, in fact, pave the way forward for the construction of a border wall.
A senior White House official, speaking to LifeZette on condition of anonymity, said the opposition “jumped us” on defining the deal shortly after negotiations ended.
“There are places where we can start land acquisition … we can start ramping up to hire new border agents.”
Democrats charged out in front to “spike the football,” another official said, suggesting the minority party was more pleased with their ability to claim victory in the press than with the actual contents of the bargain.
As for why the GOP was outgunned in the spin battle on the bargain, one of the officials said Republicans were focused on small, but crucial, wins that would favorably impact the ability to deliver on promises in the future. Most notably, the $1.5 billion in additional border-security funding was to pay for large steel walls and levee walls. Now that Democrats have endorsed funding for these types of barriers, President Donald Trump will be in a better position to compel more expansive wall funding in the future, the White House believes.
At the daily press briefing earlier Tuesday Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, claimed the budget deal reached this week actually allows the administration to take large, meaningful steps toward securing the border.
Mulvaney showed images of the types of steel walls funded under the continuing resolution as proof the bill actually does constitute a “down payment” of sorts on the border wall. The budget deal also helps the border patrol catch, detain, and then expel illegal immigrants, Mulvaney said.
“There are places where we can start land acquisition,” said Mulvaney. “We can start ramping up to hire new border agents. We got additional beds at detention centers so we can effectively end ‘catch and release.’ One of the difficulties we had on ‘catch and release’ was that the beds were full at the detention centers.”
Mulvaney said the $1.5 billion in increased border security funds offered would result in “tremendous” improvement in security on the nation’s southern border, but cautioned the wall will take several years to fund and build.
The desire of White House staff and Mulvaney to insist the budget bill will improve border security and is also part of a longer term strategy is not surprising. Democrats and the media had been quick to declare the lack of major funding for the border wall constituted a major defeat for President Trump in the spending negotiations.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote triumphantly in a letter to her Democratic peers that the deal would not fund Trump’s “inhumane” border wall. The Washington Post wrote that Democrats had learned a way to out-negotiate Trump, using threats of a shutdown to deny him funding to start the wall.
“Noticeably absent is any funding [in the budget deal] for a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a major promise of the Trump administration to curb illegal immigration,” read a report from McClatchy’s Washington bureau.
McClatchy instead suggested “the money will go toward enhanced technology and improving existing infrastructure.”
The White House claimed the budget deal provides the most new funding for border security in 10 years, a strong first step to laying the groundwork for the president’s ultimate promise of a wall.
Press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted out pictures of construction on sections of steel border wall that he claimed refuted Democratic claims and media reports that Trump was out-negotiated and lost big-league on border-security funding.
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Speaking to a gathering of U.S. Air Force Academy students on Tuesday morning, Trump reminded the audience there was indeed border security in the bill, and said Democrats “forgot to tell you that.”