Trump closer to declaring emergency; 800,000 won’t get paid

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is edging closer to declaring a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, as pressure mounts to find an escape hatch from the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.

Some 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, were to miss their first paycheck on Friday under the stoppage, and Washington was close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history. Those markers — along with growing effects to national parks, food inspections and the economy overall — left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with Trump’s demands.

Asked about the plight of those going without pay, the president shifted the focus, saying he felt badly “for people that have family members that have been killed” by criminals who came over the border.

Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thursday to highlight what he calls a crisis of drugs and crime. He said that “if for any reason we don’t get this going” — an agreement with House Democrats who have refused to approve the $5.7 billion he demands for the wall — “I will declare a national emergency.”

Trump was consulting with White House attorneys and allies about using presidential emergency powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He claimed his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny “100 percent.”

Such a move to bypass Congress’ constitutional control of the nation’s purse strings would spark certain legal challenges and bipartisan cries of executive overreach.

A congressional official said the White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to look for billions of dollars earmarked last year for disaster response for Puerto Rico and other areas that could be diverted to a border wall as part of the emergency declaration. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

“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,” Trump said before departing the White House for his politically flavored visit to the border. He wore his campaign-slogan “Make America Great Again” cap throughout.

It was not clear what a compromise might entail, and there were no indications that one was in the offing. Trump says he won’t reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said at one point that he didn’t “see a path in Congress” to end the shutdown, then stated later that enough was enough: “It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier.”

Visiting a border patrol station in McAllen, Trump viewed tables piled with weapons and narcotics. Like nearly all drugs trafficked across the border, they were intercepted by agents at official ports of entry, he was told, and not in the remote areas where he wants to extend tall barriers.

Still, he declared: “A wall works. … Nothing like a wall.”

He argued that the U.S. can’t solve the problem without a “very substantial barrier” along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.

Sitting among border patrol officers, state and local officials and military representatives, Trump insisted he was “winning” the shutdown fight and criticized Democrats for asserting he was manufacturing a sense of crisis in order to declare an emergency. “What is manufactured is the use of the word ‘manufactured,'” Trump said.

As he arrived in Texas, several hundred protesters near the airport in McAllen chanted and waved signs opposing a wall. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: “Build that wall!”

In Washington, federal workers denounced Trump at a rally with congressional Democrats, demanding he reopen the government so they can get back to work.

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of engaging in political games to fire up his most loyal supporters, suggesting that a heated meeting Wednesday with legislators at the White House had been “a setup” so that Trump could walk out of it.

In an ominous sign for those seeking a swift end to the showdown, Trump announced he was canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for later this month, citing Democrats’ “intransigence” on border security. He was to leave Jan. 21 to attend the World Economic Forum.

The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

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5 comments

  • Homer

    “He argued that the U.S. can’t solve the problem without a “very substantial barrier” along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.”

    So, the 95- to 98-percent effectiveness for border walls is an exaggeration? Perhaps only to the 12 percent who cling to Marx and Mao.

  • steve

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to see it unless absolutely necessary. But when an individual who shoots from the hip is trying to convince a bunch of haters that won’t approve of something that they did approve of in the past, who knows what will happen? And with the adolescents disguised as adults that are commonplace in Washington these days, there’ll be more and more of this crap in the future, to the detriment of our country.

    • Homer

      Steve,
      It is the magnet of free housing, education, health care, welfare provisions and sanctuary city-state guarantees that has made the border wall a necessity—and this was made possible by “representatives” who only serve their interests, not ours.

      I consider it amusing that they and the media want us to feel sorry for public servants who miss a payday. My chosen profession was killed by NAFTA, my life was signed away for two years under the Trade Readjustment Act, and when I was close to graduating with highest honors, they pulled the plug. I was fortunate to have enough cash on hand, and a hard lesson was not to trust any politician except the one named Trump.

      • steve

        Agreed. With Trump, there’s no ambiguity. I only wish that he wasn’t so inclined to open his mouth before weighing his words. It only makes it a lot easier for the anti-Trump media to support the hypocritical liars on the left whose every waking moment is devoted to getting rid of Trump, and if they take down the country in the process, they don’t care.

        • Homer

          Ah, therein lies the rub…

          The President chose to run because he felt the individual needed help, and his sentiment was absolutely dead on. If you look at the deep state and their devices in depth, it will leave you mentally gasping. The President’s tweets and unscripted statements are simply bait for a prescribed response, which is usually more outrageous than intended because the left and media are not that bright and worse at typing. Their disgust for people who work for a living will be their undoing.

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