Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:38 - Updated Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:38
As U.S. shutdown nears record length, Trump weighs declaring emergency
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump, facing the prospect within days of the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, was considering declaring a national emergency that would likely escalate a policy dispute with Democrats over his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall into a court test of presidential power.
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To escape a political trap of his own making, Trump suggested strongly on Thursday that he might declare an emergency so that he can bypass Congress to get funding for his wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 election campaign.
He originally pledged Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But the Mexican government has refused. Trump is now demanding that Congress provide $5.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding for the wall.
That is opposed by Democrats in Congress, who call the wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem. The standoff has left a quarter of the federal government closed down and hundreds of thousands of federal employees staying home on furlough or working for no pay and set to miss their paychecks.
The partial federal government shutdown entered its 21st day on Friday. It will become the longest shutdown ever on Saturday.
With no Capitol Hill compromise in sight, Trump publicly ruminated on Thursday during a trip to the Texas border about declaring an emergency.
A close Trump confidant judged the time for such a step had come. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement: “It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works.”
The Wall Street Journal, NBC and the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that the White House had asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look into diverting money from its budget toward the wall and to explore how fast construction could begin under an emergency declaration. Reuters could not immediately verify the accuracy of the reports,REUTERS.
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