Donald Trump has said he is “not happy” with a Congress deal addressing his border wall demands but insisted he did not want another government shutdown, raising hopes he will not veto the agreement.
The US president said he was still working through details of the compromise, which was struck by Republican and Democrat congressmen late on Monday to keep the government funded beyond the Friday midnight deadline.
The agreement includes $1.37 billion (£1.06 billion) for new fencing along 55 miles of the US-Mexico border, according to congressional sources. That is well below the $5.7 billion for more than 200 miles of border wall that Mr Trump had demanded.
The deal, details of which have yet to be published, prompted an immediate backlash from influential right-wing figures, with Sean Hannity, a Fox News presenter who is close to the president, calling it a “garbage compromise”.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr Trump voiced concern but did not say he would block the deal, which would need to pass the House of Representatives and the US Senate before landing on his desk.
“Am I happy at first glance? I just got to see it. The answer is no, I’m not, I’m not happy,” Mr Trump said. “But am I happy with where we’re going? I’m thrilled.”
The president added that his team was “moving things around” and “taking really from far less important areas” – a possible reference to executive action he is reportedly considering that would take money from pre-existing funds to build his wall.
Mr Trump repeatedly played down the chance of another government shutdown. That would happen on Saturday if Congress and the White House fail to come to an agreement over funding by then.
Mr Trump said: “I would hope that there won’t be a shutdown. I’m extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us. It’s sad. They’re doing the country no favours. They are hurting our country very badly. But I certainly don’t want to see a shutdown.”
The prospective deal comes after the longest government shutdown in US history, 35 days, which was a driven by Mr Trump’s demand for $5 billion of border wall funding and the Democrats’ refusal to agree.
The US president had changed his stance by reopening government for three weeks to allow for cross-party immigration talks. The deal that was struck on Monday was the culmination of those talks.
A Democrat demand to cap the number of deportation beds that immigration enforcement officials could use for people picked up within America threatened to derail the talks. But the Democrats relented, agreeing instead to less funding for those beds.
The deal included less than a quarter of the money Mr Trump was initially seeking for border barriers. It is also for fencing rather than a wall – thought the president has softened his initial call for a concrete wall, saying “steel slats” would work too.
Any legislation based on the deal will need to be passed by the House, which is controlled by the Democrats, and the Senate, which is Republican-held, and signed by Mr Trump before midnight on Friday to stop another shutdown.