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Trump says not happy with border deal but shutdown unlikely

US President unhappy with border security deal, which denies him wall funds

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was unhappy with a deal struck by congressional negotiators on border security that denied him funds for his promised US-Mexican border wall, but did not reject it outright as fellow Republicans urged his support.

Mr Trump's demand in December for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7b) from Congress to help build a wall on the southern border triggered a 35-day closure of about a quarter of the federal government. But he remains undecided about whether he will support the agreement reached on Monday night that includes US$1.37 billion for border fencing.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump said he did not expect another shutdown, while continuing to insist he could find a way to bypass Congress and build a wall without lawmakers.

Mr Trump posted on Twitter that he had been briefed by Republican Senator Richard Shelby and was reviewing the measure.

The Republican president repeated his insistence that if Congress did not provide the funding, he would press forward with building a wall, writing: "Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!"

White House aides are considering having Mr Trump sign the compromise deal but also try to move money that has already been allocated for other programs to instead build the wall, one official said. Mr Trump may need approval from Democrats in the House to be able to do so.

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and a host of other agencies is due to end on Saturday after the expiration of a stop-gap measure that ended the longest federal shutdown in US history. Monday's tentative funding agreement would keep the government open until Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

"I have to study it. I'm not happy about it," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House about the deal, which would need to be passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate and signed by him.

The House could vote late on Wednesday at the earliest, according to a senior aide. Congress must pass the measure by Friday's midnight deadline.

Congressional Republicans have shown little appetite for another shutdown after taking heavy criticism over the last one. "I hope he'll decide to sign it," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy also touted the deal.

But the most conservative members of the House are unhappy with the deal, a sign it could face trouble if some liberal Democrats also defect over border fencing funding and concerns about the number of beds in immigrant detention facilities.

"Most conservative members are having real heartburn today," Republican Representative Mark Meadows said on Fox News.

"I can tell you it's the Democrats that are walking around here on Capitol Hill with a smile on their face today, not Republicans."

Congressional sources said the agreement includes US$1.37 billion for new fencing - about the same as last year - along 90 km of the border but only with currently used designs such as "steel bollard" fencing.- REUTERS

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