'Broken Border' More Damaging Than Government Shutdown

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Top Republican lawmakers on Sunday warned against Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to secure funds for a border wall, signaling doubts within the president's party as a government shutdown was set to enter a fourth workweek.

The president has toyed with the idea of declaring a national emergency in order to use money toward the border wall he's been demanding to curve the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he encouraged Trump during a telephone conversation Sunday to reopen government for a period of weeks to try to negotiate a deal with Democrats that would break the impasse.

The partial government shutdown has now become the longest in United States history.

The shutdown has affected the work of nine cabinet departments and various smaller agencies - affecting 800,000 workers who have not been paid since 22 December. But last week, Trump shot down a deal floated by Senate Republicans that would have included those protections, and he has repeatedly said that he plans to wait until the Supreme Court rules on the matter before seeking to negotiate with Democrats on it.

Trump also blasted Democrats for attending a winter retreat in Puerto Rico, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers attended the opening night of Hamilton with creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda back in the lead. "That's why I'm depressed".

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has become the longest on record, with still no end in sight to the political standoff.

Trump has tried various angles to pressure Democratic negotiators, but they have not visibly budged from an offer to support some border security spending - the figure of $1.3 billion has been floated - but not the $5.7 billion he wants for a wall. Democrats oppose that step but may be unable to stop it.

"This is where I ask the Democrats to come back to Washington and vote for money for the wall, the barrier", Trump said on Friday.

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Mr Trump fired off a series of tweets on Saturday in an effort to defend his stance and goad Democrats to return to Washington and end what he called "the massive humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border".

An attempt Thursday by moderate Republican senators to broker a deal that would have traded immigration protections for undocumented "Dreamers" brought to the USA as children in return for wall money collapsed after Vice President Mike Pence rejected it.

Trump spent a snowy morning in Washington tweeting about the wall.

And Trump appeared to shoot down Graham's suggestion of a "wall plus" deal, saying Sunday on Twitter that even Democrats don't want to make "Dreamers" part of the shutdown talks. He again sought to blame Democrats, who he said were "everywhere but Washington as people await their pay". But the GOP-controlled Senate has refused to consider the measures unless Trump agrees to sign them.

Some Republicans on Sunday called for Trump to continue negotiating with Democrats rather than seek to declare a national emergency. This, as polls suggest Trump is getting most of the blame for the shutdown.

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he'd "hate to see" an emergency declaration by Trump.

"Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use", said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who speaks to Trump frequently. Miami International Airport on Saturday closed its least-used concourse due to a shortage of TSA officers, according to the Miami Herald.

The standoff has turned into a test of political ego, particularly for Trump, who came into office boasting of his deal-making powers and making an aggressive border policy the keystone of his nationalist agenda.

They are classed as essential employees and required to work, but many are calling in sick to protest the situation.

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