President Trump on Wednesday resumed his threat to bypass Congress and fund the construction of a border wall by declaring a national emergency if Democrats maintain their opposition to his funding demands.
“I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want,” Trump told reporters during a White House pool spray. “My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.”
Trump also pushed back on recent reports indicating support for his negotiating position is waning among moderate Senate Republicans, some of whom have begun to express concern that the ongoing partial government shutdown, which is now well into its third week, will begin to cost them politically.
“We have tremendous support in the Senate, we have tremendous support in the House.” Trump said. “They say, ‘Oh is it true that a congressman broke away?’ Let me tell you, every once in a while you’re going to have that. But you know who else has that? The Democrats. Because they have people breaking away too, because they know you need border security. But you don’t report that.”
Moderate Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado called on Trump last week to abandon his demand for $5.7 billion in border-wall funding and sign spending legislation that would end the shutdown. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia joined Collins and Gardner in expressing support on Tuesday for the passage of stop-gap spending legislation that would not include funding for a border wall.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time here,” Murkowski told reporters.
“There is a greater sense of urgency about where we are, and so you heard me express my concerns” Murkowski added. “I’m going to share my concerns with the president and the conference. . . . I think they know where I’m coming from.”
During his Tuesday night Oval Office address, Trump described the record number of migrant families arriving at the southern border as a “humanitarian crisis,” but avoided discussion of a “national emergency,” prompting speculation that he had abandoned the idea to avoid sparking an intra-Republican rift over its legality.