As reported by TheHill
President Trump on Wednesday said he may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a border wall if spending talks fail, raising the stakes for negotiations set to resume later in the day.
“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” Trump told reporters during a bill signing in the Oval Office.
The president said he has the “absolute right” to declare an emergency, even though some legal scholars and Democratic lawmakers say he does not.
Trump added that his “threshold” for declaring a national emergency is if he cannot reach a deal with congressional Democrats, who have rejected his demand for $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The comments come one day after he argued to the nation in a televised addressed that a “humanitarian crisis” caused by drug trafficking and illegal immigration exists on the southern border and his proposed wall is the only thing that can stop it.
The president stopped short of declaring a national emergency, despite the expectation from some lawmakers that he would. But the White House on Wednesday reiterated that the option is still on the table.
Trump’s words did not move Democratic leaders who have repeated their demands that the president reopen the government before negotiations on border security can progress.
“It’s much harder to achieve a good negotiation while the government’s shut down,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the Capitol. “The first order of business — we’ll continue to negotiate — the first order of business: Open up the government.”