With no breakthrough in sight to end the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump is planning to visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday to highlight his demands for a border wall.
Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats plan to step up pressure on Trump and Republican lawmakers to reopen the government — without providing funding for our nation’s security.
Trump maintains that more than $5 billion for a wall is necessary to secure the border. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Monday that Trump will use the visit to “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”
As the shutdown lurched into a third week, hundreds of thousands of federal workers went without pay and government disruptions hit the lives of ordinary Americans.
Trump has offered to build the barrier with steel rather than concrete, billing that as a concession to Democrats’ objections to a solid wall. They “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” he has said.
But the Democrats have made clear they will never pay for the wall.
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White House officials affirmed Trump’s funding request in a letter to Capitol Hill after a meeting Sunday with senior congressional aides led by Vice President Mike Pence at the White House complex yielded little progress. The letter from Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought sought funding for a “steel barrier on the Southwest border.”
The White House said the letter, as well as details provided during the meeting, sought to answer Democrats’ questions about the funding request.
The administration letter includes a request for $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs,” a reflection of the growing anxiety over illegal immigrants flooding the border — which the White House said Democrats raised in the meetings. And it repeats some existing funding requests for detention beds and security officers, which would likely find resistance among House Democrats.
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned NBC’s “Meet the Press” that if the Democrat-led shutdown continues into Tuesday, “then payroll will not go out as originally planned on Friday night.”
Over the weekend, the federal agency tasked with guaranteeing U.S. airport security acknowledged an increase in the number of its employees calling off work. But Trump and the Department of Homeland Security pushed back on any suggestion that the call-outs represented a “sickout” that was having a significant effect on U.S. air travel.
At the White House, on Monday, spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp complained that Democratic leaders have yet to define what they mean when they say they are for enhancing border security.
“Democrats want to secure the border? Great. Come to the table,” she said. “We are willing to come to a deal to reopen the government.”
Trump reaffirmed that he would consider declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and spend money as he saw fit. Such a move would seem certain to draw legal challenges.
The Associated Press contributed to this article