WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump warned on Friday that he could keep the US government partly closed for “months or even years” and declare a national emergency if the Congress refused to provide USD 5.6 billion funding for a wall along the Mexico border.
After his meeting with top Democrats failed to end the two-week impasse, Trump said that he may call a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval.
I did say that. Absolutely, I said that, Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House after Democratic leaders told media about the president’s “threat”, during their meeting with him, to continue with the partial government shutdown for years.
The Republican president initially gave a positive account of the 90-minute meeting with Democrats at the White House, describing it as “very productive”.
But when asked whether he had considered using emergency presidential powers to bypass congressional approval of funding, Trump said he had.
“I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. That’s another way of doing it,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, after his meeting with Trump on ending the partial government shutdown said, We told the president we need the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period, months or even years.”
The discussion then – we discussed a bunch of issues – that were somewhat contentious, and we’ll continue discussing, of course, but it’s very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government, Schumer said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who attended the meeting along with other Congressional leaders stressed on the need to open the government.
We recognise on the Democratic side that we really cannot resolve this until we open up the government and we made that very clear to the president. Services are being withheld from the American people.
“Paychecks are being held — withheld from people who serve the needs of the American people and our border security will suffer if we do not resolve this issue, Pelosi said.
Responding to reporters’ questions thereafter, Trump said he could continue with the government shutdown but it is unlikely to happen.
I don’t think it will, but I am prepared and I think I could speak for Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate. They feel very strongly about having a safe country, having a border that makes sense. Without borders, I’ve said it many times, we don’t have a country. I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly, he said.
Trump said he has the option of building the border wall with his constitutional provisions under national emergency.