"I am proud to shut down the government for border security", Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a televised press conference at the White House.
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 US government, all but guaranteeing that he will preside over the longest shutdown in USA history. Such a step would allow Trump to bypass Congress and tap various pots of unspent federal money, including for military construction and disaster relief and from asset seized by law enforcement, to pay for the wall.
Trump has insisted on funding for a wall that he says is aimed at stopping human and drug trafficking across the border, asserting that he will not sign a budget bill without funding for his promised wall. The president initially sounded as though such a move was imminent, but then pulled back. Milstead said a barrier of steel slats that border agents can see through and animals and waters can pass through - much like what exists at the border now - could work.
"If we can't, all bets are off", Mr. Graham said on "Fox News Sunday".
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Democrats oppose such a declaration but may be powerless to stop it. Some Republicans are wary, too, fearing how a future Democratic president might use that authority. Such a move, should Mr Trump ultimately go down that route, would nearly certainly be challenged in the courts.
Trump sees the declaration of an emergency as a last resort and still hopes to make a deal with Democrats to reopen the federal government, Graham said, adding that he spoke to Trump earlier in the day.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told the West Block's Mercedes Stephenson that the three-week shutdown is a grudge match symbolizing the bigger ideological fight between Republicans and Democrats, but warned the country will face serious economic harm if it doesn't end soon. On the divisive issue of the border wall with Mexico, however, support for the wall has strengthened among Republicans: eight out of ten favor the wall.
But Trump has said that while he is interested in pursuing a broader overhaul of the immigration system, he first wants to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about the group of immigrants known as "Dreamers".
Despite these claims, however, Trump actually admitted in December that if the shutdown occurred over the border wall, it would be his fault.
"It's not about elitism, it's not about separatism, it's not about racism", Milstead said. Farmers have supported Trump through a trade war with China that cost them billions, but they are complaining about the loss of loans, payments and other agricultural services because of the shutdown.
Officials explored diverting money from a range of accounts, including 13.9 billion dollars given to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year's deadly hurricanes and floods, but that option appeared to lose steam following an outcry. "Let's make a deal, but I'll do it if I had to, '" Graham told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.