President Trump on Tuesday threatened to call on the military to build his promised border wall if he fails to get cooperation from congressional Democrats.
“The Wall will get built,” Trump wrote on Twitter ahead of a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders. “People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!”
Democrats have so far refused to budge in their opposition to the Trump administration’s request for $5 billion in the next spending bill to build a wall rather than enhance existing border fencing. They have agreed to providing $1.6 billion for border security but not a wall.
Trump on Tuesday accused the Democratic party of opposing the wall for “strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left.” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi then lobbed the blame back at Trump, saying a government shutdown after December 21, when funding runs out for a large portion of the government, would be on his head.
“The president knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement,” Schumer and Pelosi wrote in a joint statement on Monday.
Some Republican lawmakers were skeptical about whether defense funding could be redirected to build a border wall.
“If the president has the authority to do it legally. . . . I would think politically it’s one of his key campaign promises and he would want to keep it,” said Florida senator Marco Rubio. “I don’t know if he has the legal authority and I’m not sure what kind of friction that would create with appropriators around here in future negotiations on other topics.”
Republican senator Lamar Alexander, who sits on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said he will “wait until the idea moves from the level of a tweet to a specific proposal and then I’ll think about it.”