President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he may end up declaring a state of emergency to address the border crisis if opponents continue to ignore the problem.
Trump has been in a stalemate over border security funding that led to a partial government shutdown. He’s been fighting to secure funding for a wall along the southern border. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) thus far have refused to provide any funding for the wall at all.
“I may do that at some point,” Trump said when asked earlier today about declaring an emergency.
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“If Chuck and Nancy, who I’m meeting with, in a little while, if they don’t agree to the fact that our country really has problems with crime, with drugs and a lot of other things that come through our southern border — so much of it comes through the southern border.”
Trump was speaking with reporters alongside Senate Republican leaders after leaving a caucus meeting together.
The meeting went on for about an hour and primarily focused on border security and the shutdown. Trump also reassured reporters that the party was united amid the shutdown when asked about possible defectors.
“So much, so many problems — and if they can’t get that through or they feel politically, I don’t know why it’s good politically, I don’t care politically, I’m just doing what’s right for the country,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you, it’s a very bad political issue for the Democrats, that I can tell you.”
Trump has been considering declaring a state of emergency to get his border wall funding. The move possibly could allow the president to free up billions in emergency funds for his wall through the National Emergencies Act. But there is a question about whether he could actually do that and he is likely to face legal challenges if he does.
Trump also stressed the importance of having a border wall during his first Oval Office address on Tuesday night. He echoed similar arguments during recent Cabinet meetings and press conferences throughout the shutdown as well.
Trump and congressional leaders have continued discussions to overcome the stalemate but with little progress.
Congress has had nearly continuous news conferences and internal discussions in the day since that address. Schumer and Pelosi stood alongside a dozen federal workers hurt by the shutdown while blaming it on the president. Lawmakers from both parties have also held press conferences throughout the day on the issue as well.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats early in the day of flip-flopping on the issue. He noted that they have supported proposals such as the border wall up until Trump became president.
Trump echoed those comments while talking after the caucus meeting. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) accused them of refusing to negotiate early as well.
Trump is specifically looking to fund a security wall along the southern border with roughly $5.7 billion. The opposition of Democratic leaders to the wall and the president’s refusal to sign spending bills that don’t include funding is what led both sides to the partial government shutdown December 22.
House Democrats have made a few attempts of their own to end the shutdown. They passed two bills intended to fund most of the government while leaving room to debate border security. They later announced a plan to pass four separate appropriations bills. But without border wall funding, they are unlikely to get far unless the president relents.
Trump is also planning on traveling to the southern border to see it firsthand Thursday.
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