Friday, 18 January, 2019

President Trump Renews Threat to Declare National Emergency to Build Border Wall

Members of Congress arrive before the start of the 116th Congress and swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the US House of Representatives at the US Capitol AFP 2018 Brendan SMIALOWSKI New US Congress Convenes With Democratic Majority in House Amid Shutdown
Andrew Cummings | 07 January, 2019, 01:43

Trump's comments came at the start of the third week of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers idled or without paychecks.

Trump suggested that he might call the wall "something different" to bring Democrats to the table, but said he preferred a "steel" barrier over concrete.

Vice-President Mike Pence told Fox News the deal was being "talked about", but that Mr Trump said no deal was possible "without a wall".

One Democrat, Chris Van Hollen, said in his party's weekly radio address that the shutdown "is part of a larger pattern of a president who puts his personal whims and his effort to score political points before the needs of the American people..."

The president has described the situation at the border as a "national emergency", and has said he is looking into ways to get a wall built without congressional approval.

"I think this is going to drag on a lot longer". Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union", Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called the idea a "nonstarter".

Republican Susan Collins of ME wants the Senate to take up House-passed bills to re-open the government.

But McConnell faces increasing pressure from within his caucus, especially from vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2020, as several conservative senators urged action to reopen the government, according to media reports. Democrats in control of the House of Representatives this week passed a bill to reopen the government without providing additional funding for the wall, and have insisted that reopening the government should be contingent upon wall construction funds.

Congressional staff and White House officials will meet again on Sunday afternoon to try and hammer out a deal.

The Republican president has refused to fully fund the government until he gets $5.6 billion (£4.4 billion) for a US-Mexico border wall.

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Republicans under retiring Speaker Paul Ryan all but gave up trying to the muscle the conservative House Freedom Caucus in line. The new Congress will gavel into session on Thursday, with Democrats taking over the majority in the House of Representatives.

That's despite the fact that his administration has already spent millions constructing wall prototypes near the border in San Diego. "We could reopen much of the government where there's no dispute", Collins told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press".

Trump has demanded Congress appropriate money for the wall, and his dispute with Democrats over the issue pushed the government into an ongoing partial shutdown.

On the subject of federal employees working without pay, the president said those workers would want him to "keep going" on his fight for the wall.

The president traveled with staff to Camp David in Maryland to work on agenda items for the upcoming year.

Trump is still digging in his heels, demanding billions for a border barrier that Democrats won't provide.

After another round of talks led by Vice President Mike Pence with senior congressional aides, Trump tweeted that the session had been "productive". Such a move would seem certain to draw legal challenges.

"This is national security we're talking about", he said on Friday.

More discussions are planned for Sunday.

Former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell on Saturday called President Trump a "motherf**ker", then claimed she kinda' didn't (Hint: She did).

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released a statement that next week Democrats will "begin passing individual appropriations bills to re-open all government agencies, starting with the appropriations bill that covers the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service".

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