President Trump has been dropping hints all weekend that he’s about to declare a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has refused to budge on a compromise.
With just eleven days to go until stopgap government funding expires and another partial government shutdown begins, Trump has called the negotiations a waste of time, and that people should “listen closely” to his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
When the talks began last week, Democrats offered no new money for border barriers and Republicans were still seeking $5.7 billion for a wall. They suggested an openness to border fencing, but not the wall Trump made a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. For lawmakers in the talks, Trump and Pelosi are proving the biggest obstacles to a compromise. –Bloomberg
When asked on Friday if he’s likely to declare a national emergency, Trump said “I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have to do that. But we will at the same time be building, regardless, we’re building a wall. And we’re building a lot of wall. But I can do it a lot faster the other way.”
Trump then suggested that people tune in on Tuesday:
“Well, I’m saying listen closely to the State of the Union,” Trump said, adding. “I think you’ll find it very exciting.”
Reporter: Mr. President, have you privately decided whether or not you will declare a national emergency?
— POLITICO (@politico) February 1, 2019
Last week Trump floated the idea of a national emergency in an interview with the New York Times.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished … Now whether or not I declare a national emergency — that you’ll see.”
During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Trump continued to make the case for overriding Pelosi.
“It’s national emergency, it’s other things and you know there have been plenty national emergencies called,” he said.
White House aides, meanwhile, have said that Trump will use his SOTU speech to implore Congress to move forward on issues including immigration, and “bridge old divisions,” according to Bloomberg.
If lawmakers reach a deal, it could include Democrats agreeing to miles of new border fencing. It remains unclear if Trump would accept that offer. While he’s described new and replacement fencing as a “wall,” and U.S. troops have been laying miles of concertina wire near the border, he’s also said fencing is not sufficient.
Negotiators then would also need to sort out how to pay for the extra barriers, including whether to cut other programs or use budget gimmicks to make up the difference. They’ll also need to sort out other fiscal disputes such as whether to send more disaster aide to hurricane-battered Puerto Rico, which Trump has opposed. –Bloomberg
While the 2016 GOP platform called for a wall along the entire southern US border, the scope of the project has changed significantly over the last three years – most recently acknowledging that the wall wouldn’t be necessary in areas with natural obstacles such as mountains or the Rio Grande River, and that the wall could be made of “steel slats” instead of concrete.
A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful! pic.twitter.com/sGltXh0cu9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he wants legislators to find common ground in order to prevent another shutdown and to avoid a national emegency declaration.
“I’m for whatever works that prevents the level of dysfunction we’ve seen on full display here in the last month and also doesn’t bring about a view on the president’s part that he needs to declare a national emergency,” McConnell told reporters.
Trump has been personally warned that if he declares a national emergency, anyone in Congress could – and inevitably would, challenge it by calling for a vote to overturn his decision and lead to court challenges.
Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Sunday on CNN that while Trump has the power to declare an emergency, it would likely have to be decided by the courts.
A CBS News poll released Sunday found two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump declaring a national emergency in order to get the wall built, and most survey respondents — 73 percent — said they want Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government [open]. –Bloomberg
“If we can’t arrive at a deal over that, it becomes hard to see how you arrive at a deal over a national infrastructure package or drug pricing or things of that nature where the country needs us to come together and find a common sense solution,” said Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.