Read more: Georgia's D.C. lawmakers back shutdown deal, but wall remains an issue
Perdue – who stayed in Washington over the weekend to dine privately with Trump and huddle with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and GOP senators at Camp David, according to a person familiar with the meetings – said he hoped negotiators could find a “meaningful middle position” on wall funding that would set aside at least a down payment for a barrier.
“I’ve told him all along: it’s not the (dollar amount) that’s important. It’s the momentum,” said Perdue, recounting his advice to Trump. “Let’s keep going on what past presidents have started here in terms of securing the crisis points on the border.”
Perdue said Pelosi and other Democrats were “hypocritical” for backing the border security proposals of past Democratic presidents but rejecting Trump’s, and argued they were more interested in messaging for the 2020 elections than forging a compromise.
“This president has bent over backwards to give an opportunity and a pathway to a reasonable middle ground solution,” he said.
Democrats have offered to give Trump money for repairing fencing, hiring more border agents and immigration judges and purchasing new security technology, but insist a border wall goes against American values. They’ve also criticized the Trump administration for constantly moving the goalposts as negotiations have unfolded.
Read more: Atlanta federal workers, businesses remain wary after shutdown deal
Perdue, who has pushed for an overhaul of the country's legal immigration laws, predicted that the timetable of the current negotiations was too short to produce a broader immigration deal.
He continued to defend Trump's ability to declare a national emergency to secure wall money should negotiators fail to strike a final agreement. The proposition has united many Georgia Republicans but has given other GOP senators, including Georgia's Johnny Isakson, pause about the political precedent it would create.
The emergency designation could put Georgia Republicans, including Perdue, in a political bind. It would allow Trump to divert money from politically popular Army Corps of Engineers and military construction projects, including Georgia's top economic development project at the Savannah port.
Perdue didn’t deny that Trump could tap funding previously set aside for Georgia projects, but he said Monday there were “plenty of places to find this money without necessarily taking away from high economic return projects like the Savannah port.”
Perdue has inextricably tied himself to the president as he runs for a second term in the U.S. Senate. A bevy of Democrats, including former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, have expressed interest in challenging him – and indicated they won't hesitate to criticize Perdue for those White House ties.
Read more: Inside David Perdue's 2020 race for another U.S. Senate term