Top Trump Senate Ally Urges President to Reopen Shutdown Government
U.S. President Donald Trump is standing by his demand for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, as Democrats refuse to support what they call an expensive and ineffective measure while a partial government shutdown over the standoff hits its 24th day Monday.
Late Sunday, Trump issued a series of tweets quoting an editorial by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan in which Buchanan called for Trump to use executive authority to declare a national emergency to get the money he wants for wall construction.
Trump finished with his own comment: "The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!"
Earlier Sunday, one of Trump's closest allies in the U.S. Senate urged him to at least temporarily reopen the shuttered federal government and negotiate with Democrats.
South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday he would still support a presidential emergency declaration after giving talks another chance.
"I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can't at the end of three weeks, all bets are off," Graham said.
Graham echoed Trump by blaming the three-week long government shutdown on Democrats — specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who joked she would give Trump money for a border wall — $1.
"How do you negotiate with the speaker of the house when she tells you even if you open up the government, we are not going to give you but $1 for the wall? So until that changes, there's not much left except the national emergency approach," Graham said on Fox.
Declaring a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexican border would allow Trump to spend the $5 billion he wants for a wall without congressional approval — a move Democrats would immediately challenge in court.
Most Democrats say they agree on the need for border security, but say there is no national security crisis and believe a wall would be an impractical waste of money.
"I do think if we reopen the government, if the president ends this shutdown crisis, we have folks who can negotiate a responsible, modern investment in technology that will actually make us safer," Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said on Fox.
Coons blames the impasse on border wall funding that led to the shutdown on Trump. He said the president had accepted a border security package that included money for a wall, then changed his mind.
"The only crisis here is one that's been created by the president's abrupt change in position at the end of last year in the last days of a Republican-controlled Congress," Coons said. He added that Trump should test the Democrats' willingness to compromise by making the concessions he is willing to make clear to everyone.
Trump insists building a wall along the border will bring down the nation's crime rate. He says illegal drugs are pouring into the United States from Mexico, even though security experts say most come through legal ports of entry.
Trump chided 30 congressional Democrats for heading to a Hispanic Caucus retreat in Puerto Rico to watch a charity performance of the smash Broadway show "Hamilton."
Trump mocked them for "having fun" while he remains in snowy Washington.
But the lawmakers reportedly bought their own tickets to the show. They will also meet Puerto Rican officials on the recovery from Hurricane Maria — the powerful storm that devastated the island in 2017. They have also brought donated medical supplies.
Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay.
Congress says all affected federal workers will get back pay as soon as the shutdown is over, but that brings little assurance to those who have immediate expenses or little or no savings in case of an emergency.
While the Trump has said he "can relate" to their loss of income, he says a broken border is more damaging than a government shutdown.