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Trump threatens to use emergency power to build wall, end shutdown


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President Donald Trump salutes a US Border Patrol helicopter with US Border Patrol agents as it flies over the Rio Grande River during his visit to the US - Mexico border in Mission, Texas, US - Reuters

 

MCALLEN, Texas/WASHINGTON (Reuters): Flanked by border agents who are going without paychecks during a government shutdown, US President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to use emergency powers to bypass Congress to pay for a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Trump flew to the Texas border with Mexico to try to bolster his case for the border wall as a partial US government shutdown tied to the issue stretched into its 20th day with no sign of new talks to resolve the impasse.

“We can declare a national emergency. We shouldn’t have to,” Trump told reporters. “This is just common sense.”

Such a step would likely prompt an immediate legal challenge over constitutional powers from congressional Democrats – a challenge Trump said he would win.The Republican president is adamant that a government funding bill to end the shutdown include $5.7 billion for a border barrier – his signature campaign promise. Congressional Democrats oppose that.

The standoff has left a quarter of the federal government closed down and hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.

A day after he stormed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders, Trump attacked them for refusing his demand, calling them harder to deal with than China, a rival power.

“I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honourable than Crying Chuck and Nancy. I really do,” Trump said, referring to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

The House passed two bills to fund the departments of transportation, housing and agriculture – each drawing a few more Republican votes than a similar effort on Wednesday to reopen the Treasury Department and other agencies.

The White House has said Trump would veto the bills if they made it to his desk.

Trump cancelled plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which is scheduled to start on Jan. 22, signalling he was prepared for the shutdown to drag on.

 


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