US President Donald Trump says negotiations with opposition Democrats over funding a border wall with Mexico have not advanced and he may declare a national emergency to bypass congress to build the barrier.
“We’re getting nowhere with the Democrats,” Trump told reporters at the White House today.
“I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have to do that,” he added, referring to declaring a national emergency.
Trump did not definitely state whether he would declare a national emergency, which would enable him to fund a border wall without congressional approval but would certainly face legal challenges.
A national emergency declaration “would help the process”, he added. Trump has agreed to open the government for three weeks, until February 15, to allow negotiations with Democrats after a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in US history.
If a deal is not reached by February 15, the government may shut down again, forcing hundreds of thousands of federal employees to work without pay or be furloughed.
The president indicated he will address the national emergency issue during his State of the Union Address before Congress on Tuesday, saying to “listen closely to the State of the Union, I think you’ll find it very exciting”.
A senior US administration official said Trump will “present a path forward” on the wall impasse during the televised speech but declined to offer details. Trump campaigned on stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants, with the wall, which he pledged Mexico would pay for, being his signature promise. Democrats argue that there is no national emergency at the border and they blast Trump’s proposed wall as an antiquated and ineffective solution to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants and narcotics crossing through the southern border.
The government entered into a partial shutdown in December over a stand-off between Trump and his opponents in the Democratic Party, who refused to pass legislation giving the president $US5.7 billion ($A7.9 billion) to construct sections of a wall on the border with Mexico.
Trump will also address foreign policy issues during his speech, including the US trade war with China, the situation in Venezuela and the ending of US involvement in conflicts abroad, the administration official said.
TRUMP TO PITCH ‘GREATNESS’ IN STATE OF UNION
Meantime, Trump’s State of the Union speech will urge optimism, pulling back from Washington’s current climate of strife, a top official insisted Friday.
Previewing next Tuesday’s speech before Congress, a senior administration official said Trump will “cast an inspiring vision of American greatness.” The president — in open warfare with opposition Democrats, as well as railing almost daily against prosecutors looking at allegations that he colluded with Russia in his 2016 election — will take the high ground, the official said.
“Optimistic and unifying, but I think it can also be considered visionary,” the official said of the speech.
However, the speech is bound to be one of the most politically fraught in years, coming against the backdrop of a bitter row with opposition Democrats who refuse to fund Trump’s plan for more walling along the US-Mexican border.