President Donald Trump said Thursday he may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress if he can’t reach a deal with Democrats to fund his promised border wall.
The president headed to the U.S.-Mexico border to draw further attention to his case after negotiations with lawmakers blew up.
The partial government shutdown dragged into a 20th day with hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job or working without pay as the wall fight persisted.
Asked about a national emergency declaration, Trump said as he left the White House for Texas, “I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to I will.” He contends such a declaration would allow him to direct the military to begin wall construction.
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“So we’re either going to have a win, make a compromise — because I think a compromise is a win for everybody — or I will declare a national emergency,” he said.
It’s not clear what a compromise might entail. Trump says he won’t reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats refuse to fund the long, impregnable walling that Trump envisions. He is asking $5.7 billion for wall construction, which is only 0.03% of the proposed federal budget.
Trump’s comments came a day after he walked out of a negotiating meeting with congressional leaders — “I said bye-bye,” he tweeted soon after — as efforts to reopen the government fell into deeper disarray. Affected federal workers face lost paychecks on Friday, and more people are touched every day by the rollback of government services.
In McAllen, Texas, Trump will visit a border patrol station for a roundtable discussion on immigration and border security and will get a briefing.
McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.
The president tweeted before leaving for Texas: “The Opposition Party & the Dems know we must have Strong Border Security, but don’t want to give ‘Trump’ another one of many wins!”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi fired back in a press conference Thursday, accusing the president of engaging in political games to fire up his base.
“I think the meeting was a set-up so he could walk out,” she said.
The White House meeting in the Situation Room ended after just 14 minutes. Democrats said they asked Trump to reopen the government but he told them if he did they wouldn’t give him money for the wall.
Republicans said Trump posed a direct question to Pelosi: If he opened the government, would she fund the wall?
She said no.
Trump said, “Bye-bye.”
On Saturday, Washington appears certain to set a record for the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history.
The Democrats say a wall is immoral and could hurt peoples feelings.
Trump sees it as an absolute necessity to stop what he calls a crisis of illegal immigration, drug-smuggling and human trafficking at the border.
The Associated Press contributed to this article