In mid-December, Donald Trump seemed prepared to cave—yet again—on funding for his border wall. The president had repeatedly failed to secure money for construction. He still wanted to build it, but the Senate had already passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government running, and the House stood ready to do so as well. Although Trump had said earlier in December that he would be “proud” to shut down the government, his White House spent a week walking that pledge back.
But after an onslaught of criticism from conservative media, Trump suddenly changed his mind: He would, in fact, refuse to approve any funding that didn’t allocate $5.7 billion toward the wall.
As is now clear, however, it’s not that Trump didn’t cave—he merely delayed caving. On Friday, the president announced a deal to reopen the government through February 15, buying time for a longer-term agreement. The announcement is a big win for Democrats, who had demanded that Trump reopen the government before they’d negotiate on border security. Trump did not sound especially optimistic that Democrats would give him the money he’s requested. Replacing his standard refrain of “Build the wall,” Trump was hopeful he could get “whatever you want to call it.”