President Donald Trump said yesterday he would not declare a national emergency "right now" to end a standoff over border security that has idled large swaths of the USA government, all but guaranteeing that he will preside over the longest shutdown in US history.
Although Trump had publicly raised the specter of declaring a national emergency and using disaster funds to pay for new wall construction, Trump appeared to have at least temporarily backed off that idea as of 11 January 2019.
It's a different accommodation from just a few years ago.
Bypassing Congress' constitutional control of the nation's purse strings would lead to certain legal challenges and bipartisan charges of executive overreach. They complained about Obama as "king", "emperor" or "tyrant". Instead, he told reporters Friday, "we want Congress to do its job".
"I could do that very quickly", Trump said during a White House event on border security.
"But we've been put into this position", he said. Declaring a national emergency over it with little information to suggest the security situation has dramatically changed could prove hard to defend in court.
The standoff has led to a partial government shutdown that has now lasted 21 days, tying the record for the longest in USA history.
A national emergency would allow Trump to divert money from other projects to pay for the wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 campaign.
He says Democrats don't support a wall costing billions of dollars that will, in his words, "destroy sensitive lands, take private property, and can be tunneled under, climbed over or cut through". But Mexico has refused.
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The longest federal government shutdown in American history ground into a fourth week Saturday, Jan. 12, with President Donald Trump showing fresh defiance on Twitter, congressional Democrats firmly resolved to resist his calls for a border wall, and unpaid workers caught in the middle.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the wall should not be funded "on the pain and suffering" of US citizens who have faced tragedy after a natural disaster. The courts did not allow President Harry Truman to nationalize the USA steel industry during the Korean War. Declaring an emergency could give the president access to many other powers, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. "I think we're talking days, not weeks", the chairman and founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii who serves on the Judiciary Committee.
No meetings between White House officials and congressional staff are scheduled, and no appearances by the President are expected - only tweets.
Nevertheless the administration has accelerated planning for it. Officials explored diverting money from a range of accounts, including $13.9 billion given to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year's deadly hurricanes and floods.
After meeting with Trump on Friday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC said it was clear to him and the president that "Democrats don't want to make a deal and will never support border wall/barriers".
"It's absurd, the arguments that are being made right now", he said.
He tweeted: "I am in the White House waiting for Cryin' Chuck and Nancy to call so we can start helping our Country both at the Border and from within".
Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the dilemma, especially as the shutdown continues with no end in sight.
The standoff has turned into a test of political ego, particularly for Trump, who came into office boasting of his deal-making powers and making an aggressive border policy the keystone of his nationalist agenda. But he prefers a negotiated settlement with Congress. "I have the absolute right to do it".