After reaffirming through leaked reports and his Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that invoking a national emergency to bypass Congress and build his border wall is still very much an option, President Trump doubled down on this threat during a press conference on Wednesday ahead of negotiations with Congressional leaders (including Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi). Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to travel to the Hill with Trump on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers.
Trump said he has the “absolute right” to declare a national emergency, something that both he and a Democratic Congressman have affirmed (though others have challenged these claims and Democratic leaders have threatened a legal challenge should be follow through). He added that his “threshold” for doing so would be “if I can make a deal” with Democrats that would include funding for the Wall. Meanwhile, the Dems on Wednesday said they’d be open to a compromise that includes funding for other border security measures.
Still, the Democratic leadership is standing by its demands that Trump reopen the government before negotiations continue.
“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” Trump told reporters during a bill signing in the Oval Office.
Trump’s comments come after he made his case to the nation during his first prime time address that the lack of security on the Southern border represents “a humanitarian crisis” caused by drug and human trafficking – though he stopped short of declaring a national emergency during the speech.
Meanwhile, Pelosi on Wednesday accused Trump of “moving the goal posts” during the negotiations, causing the government shut down to drag on for longer than necessary.
“The White House seems to move the goal posts. Every time they come with a proposal, they walk away from it. Pretty soon these goals posts won’t even be in the stadium,” she said.
According to Bloomberg, Trump claimed during the press conference that he “didn’t want” this shutdown fight, but that “strong barriers” along the border are a necessity because “a drone isn’t going to stop a thousand people from running through.”
As anxieties for federal workers who are about to miss paycheck continue to mount, Trump assured them that they are “all going to get the money” (though furloughed federal workers aren’t entitled to missed pay, though Congress has typically passed legislation to compensate them when shutdowns end).
As more Senate Republicans grow frustrated with the impasse, Trump said he’s “willing to keep the shutdown”, promising “whatever it takes” to achieve his goals – adding that he has tremendous Republican support.
If there’s anything to be taken from these comments, it’s that Trump hasn’t given up on a deal just yet – though he is apparently inching closer toward the ‘national emergency’ scenario.
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