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Trump Rejects Graham’s Plea to Reopen Government

Senators Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) hold a news conference in Washington, D.C., December 12, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/REUTERS)

President Trump on Monday dismissed the suggestion of a frequent ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, that he should reopen the government for a few weeks to encourage Democrats to continue negotiations over border-security funding.

“I did reject it,” Trump told reporters about the South Carolina Republican’s plea for him to sign a three-week-stopgap spending bill. “I’m not interested. I want to get it solved. I don’t want to just delay it. I don’t know if we’re closer to a deal. This should be the easiest deal that I’ve ever seen. We’re talking about border security. Who could be against it?”

“We have drugs, we have criminals, we have gangs, and the Democrats don’t want to do anything about it,” the president continued. “All of a sudden it’s immoral. It’s immoral because one reason, because they know they’re going to lose in the 2020 election.”

The partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, entered its 24th day on Monday. House Democrats have already passed a set of standalone bills that would fund several government agencies affected by the shutdown, including the Department of Homeland Security. But their proposal, which funds the government until February 8, does not include the $5.7 billion Trump is demanding for the construction of a wall on the southern border, and he has thus refused to back it. Democrats have refused to approve more than $1.6 billion for non-wall border security.

“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug. See if we can get a deal,” Graham said Sunday on Fox News. “If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off — see if he can do it by himself with the emergency powers. That is my recommendation.”

Trump previously floated the idea of declaring a national emergency to secure funds for the wall without congressional approval, but has said he would prefer to avoid that move.

“I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” the president said. “This is so simple, we shouldn’t have to.”

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