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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. The Senate resoundingly approved a border security compromise Thursday that ignores most of President Donald Trump's demands for building a wall with Mexico but would prevent a new government shutdown. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON — Congress steamed toward lopsided approval of a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown, but a new confrontation was ignited — this time over President Donald Trump's plan to bypass lawmakers and declare a national emergency to siphon billions from other federal coffers for his wall on the Mexican boundary.

Money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed to build a wall along the Mexican boundary and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles his proposal would construct. The White House said he'd sign the legislation but act on his own to get the rest, a move sure to bring legal action and other moves to block him.

The Senate passed the legislation by 83-16 with both parties solidly on board. House passage was assured Thursday night, with Trump's signature planned Friday.

Lawmakers exuded relief that the agreement had averted a fresh closure of federal agencies just three weeks after a record-setting 35-day partial shutdown that drew an unambiguous thumbs-down from the public. But in announcing that Trump would sign the accord, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said he'd take "other executive action, including a national emergency," prompting immediate condemnation from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states that might lose federal money.

In an unusual joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said such a declaration would be "a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract" from Trump's failure to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as he's promised for years.

Pelosi and Schumer also said that "Congress will defend our constitutional authorities." They declined to say whether that meant lawsuits or votes on resolutions to prevent Trump from unilaterally shifting money to wall-building, with aides saying they would wait to see what he does.

Democratic state attorneys general said they would consider legal action to block Trump. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the president on Twitter "we'll see you in court" if he makes the declaration.

Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump is under pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid looking like he's surrendered in his wall battle.

The uproar over what Trump would do next cast an uncertain shadow over what had been a rare display of bipartisanship in Congress to address the grinding battle between the White House and lawmakers over border security.

The abrupt announcement of Trump's plans came late in an afternoon of rumblings that the volatile president — who'd strongly hinted he'd sign the agreement but never definitively — was shifting toward rejecting it. That would have infused fresh chaos into a fight both parties are desperate to leave behind, a thought that drove some lawmakers to seek heavenly help.

"Let's all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn't shut down," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said after a chaplain opened Thursday's Senate session.

Moments before Sanders spoke at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to announce Trump's decisions to sign the bill and declare an emergency.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is close to McConnell, told reporters that there were two hours of phone calls between McConnell and the White House before there were assurances that Trump would sign. In a surprising development, McConnell said he would support Trump's emergency declaration, a turnabout for the Kentucky Republican, who like many lawmakers had opposed such action.

Democrats say there is no crisis at the border and Trump is merely sidestepping Congress. And some Republicans warn that future Democratic presidents could use his precedent to force spending on their own priorities such as gun control. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said emergency declarations are for "major natural disasters or catastrophic events" and said its use would be of "dubious constitutionality."

White House aides and congressional Republicans have said that besides an emergency, Trump might assert other authorities that could conceivably put him within reach of billions of dollars. The money could come from funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts.

Congressional aides say there is $21 billion in military construction money that could potentially be used by Trump if he declares a national emergency. But according to the law the money has to be used in support of U.S. armed forces, they say.

The Defense Department declined to provide details on available money.

With many of the Democrats' liberal base voters adamantly against Trump's aggressive attempts to curb immigration, four declared presidential hopefuls opposed the bill in the Senate: Cory Booker of New Jersey, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota voted for it, as did Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who is expected to join the field soon.

Notably, the word "wall," the heart of many a chant at Trump campaign events and his rallies as president, is absent from the compromise's 1,768-page legislative and descriptive language. "Barriers" and "fencing" are the nouns of choice, a victory for Democrats eager to deny Trump even a rhetorical victory.

The agreement, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer immigrants. To the dismay of Democrats, however, it would still leave an agency many of them consider abusive holding thousands more immigrants than last year.

Provisions like that were prompting some of the most liberal Democrats to vote "no." Four progressive freshmen including Rep. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said they were opposing the agreement to show "a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration."

The measure contains money for improved surveillance equipment, more customs agents and humanitarian aid for detained immigrants. The overall bill also provides $330 billion to finance dozens of federal programs for the rest of the year, one-fourth of federal agency budgets.

Trump sparked the last shutdown before Christmas after Democrats snubbed his $5.7 billion demand for the wall. The closure denied paychecks to 800,000 federal workers, hurt contractors and people reliant on government services and was loathed by the public.

With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Trump folded on Jan. 25 without getting any of the wall funds. His capitulation was a political fiasco for Republicans and handed Pelosi a victory less than a month after Democrats took over the House and confronted Trump with a formidable rival for power.

Trump's descriptions of the wall have fluctuated, at times saying it would cover 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile boundary. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments

  • Packman
    February 14, 2019 at 11:05 a.m.

    Of course he will take the deal, it' a win-win for President Trump. Pelosi caved bigly from her promise of "not one dime" for a border wall. Voters will recognize President Trump as the adult in the room willing to accept the legislative process and compromise. MAGA baby, MAGA.
    .
    What will be interesting will be the results of President Trump's desire to receive and re-allocate for a border wall the billions California owes the federal government now that the California governor has cancelled the boondoggle bullet train project.

  • RBear
    February 14, 2019 at 11:42 a.m.

    Pack says, "Pelosi caved bigly from her promise of "not one dime" for a border wall." And there's NOT ONE DIME for a border WALL in this bill. From the article (which apparently Pack can't read because of that reading comprehension problem he has), "Notably, the word 'wall' — which fueled many a chant at Trump campaign events and then his rallies as president — does not appear once in the 1,768 pages of legislation and explanatory materials. 'Barriers' and 'fencing' are the nouns of choice."
    ...
    Pack also says funds for transportation can be re-allocated for this project. It shows even more ignorance on his part about how this works. Federal law prohibits that kind of re-allocation and would run into court challenges if Trump tried that stupidity. Once again, an issue illiterate Trump supporter who just talks out his a** most of the time.

  • Illinoisroy
    February 14, 2019 at 11:52 a.m.

    "bigly", learn english. Make Americans Gullible Again.

  • hah406
    February 14, 2019 at noon

    No one caved on this. Trump gets a little of what he wants, but not nearly everything. The democrats get a little of what they want, but not nearly everything. It is called compromise gentlemen, and it is how our government used to work before the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus and the far left conspired to turn legislating for the good of all into hand to hand combat.

  • Packman
    February 14, 2019 at 1:08 p.m.

    Hey RBear - Your continuation of mindlessly spouting DNC talking points doesn't change the fact us Normals understand a "wall" is synonymous with physical barriers designed to keep out trespassers. "Build That Wall" is much easier and more logical chant than "Build That Physical Barrier Made of Whatever Materials Necessary to Keep Foreign Trespassers From Illegally Entering Into America". Stop being such a doofus, RBear.
    .
    Also, I didn't say the funds COULD be re-allocated. I only said it was "DESIRED". SMH, you may now apologize, RBear. I will graciously accept it.
    .
    Hey hah - Agree! This is why I say it's a win-win for President Trump as he will be credited for agreeing to the compromise.

  • mrcharles
    February 14, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.

    of course he will take the deal, it is a win win, putin still remains his overlord, and with his being "not even kissed" at the his last meeting with the un human, this may be something the sean , the fox and the lame will gloat over as not being zeored.

    not much , but at least he didnt bankrupt after he found he couldnt.

    hey, baby, hey, baby, cheer of Many Accomplices Getting Arrested......

    Sad the el paso mayor and police chief had to pass on DT's lies were, lies.

  • LRDawg
    February 14, 2019 at 1:35 p.m.

    All those missed checks for $1.4B??? Sounds like he would of gotten $1.6B if he didn't shut the government down. Win-win how? This POTUS got hammered and that blue wave is winning a blow-out
    Pelosi 3
    Trump 0

  • glh05230944
    February 14, 2019 at 1:39 p.m.

    Pelosi didn't cave on anything. She put "not one dime" on the table to use to fool trumpsters like Pack into believing that they had won the battle when the committee appeared to compromise. It's a trick commonly used in mediations, whether in in court or congress. Well done Nancy!

  • RBear
    February 14, 2019 at 2:43 p.m.

    Pack so tell me what all those idiotic prototypes Trump requested be built in the CA desert that were solid barriers. You're trying to backtrack on the idiotic ideas of Trump and his demographic that they be SOLID physical barriers. I mean, the darn things were completely opposite of what CBP wanted. Democrats have always advocated for flexible barrier solutions that met the CBP requirements.

  • JIMGAIL61788GMAILCOM
    February 14, 2019 at 2:57 p.m.

    Does the term BI-PARTISANSHIP RING A DISTANT BELL?Something that has not happened often enough in recent memory.We can only hope.Congress will grow a pair,and over ride Trump's "FAKE NATIONAL EMERGENCY".Trump has still got to play by the rules.Something Trump steadily tries to circumvent with the backing of his ilk following..When 99 out of 100 say there is no emergency.He still has to have HIS way,and the hell with needy American's.Such a Drama Queen Trump wanted,and displayed a concrete "WALL"30 feet high,not just a wire barrier.Did somebody miss the live coverage of that Trump proud moment?The only emergency this country has is TRUMP.AND HIS MINIONS.

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