President Trump to address nation, visit southern border Thursday to tout wall

  • In Business
  • 2019-01-07 20:52:13Z

WASHINGTON - As the partial government shutdown approaches a record length, President Donald Trump said Monday he will address the nation at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday on what he called the crisis at the nation's border.

Trump and aides also said he will visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday to promote his plan for an anti-migration border wall, still the sticking point in negotiations with Democrats to re-open the government.

Trump will "meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis" at the border, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders posted on Twitter. "More details will be announced soon."

Trump himself announced his prime-time speech, tweeting that "I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern."

Democrats have said Trump and aides are exaggerating the numbers of migrants entering the country illegally to justify his stance on the wall.

"Trump shut down the government over a manufactured crisis at the border," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

The Tuesday speech, Trump's first from the Oval Office, will give him a chance to lay out his case on an issue that has led to the partial government shutdown.

Trump, who first floated the idea of traveling to the border during a surprise visit to Iraq the day after Christmas, has been pressing lawmakers for $5.6 billion for the border wall. The shutdown entered its 17th day on Monday.

The shutdown record is 21 days, set in 1995 and 1996. If it is still ongoing, the current partial shutdown would hit its 22nd day at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

As the White House announced Trump's visit to the border, no resolution seemed in sight.

The weekend featured negotiations involving Vice President Mike Pence and administration and congressional staff members, but officials reported no real progress towards a deal.

Meeting with reporters on Monday, Pence described the weekend sessions as "productive" because they gave each side a "better understanding" of their top priorities.

The vice president said Trump plans to invite congressional leaders to the White House this week for more negotiations.

In the meantime, Pence said that Trump has not decided whether or not to declare some kind of national emergency on the nation's southern border, a move that would be designed to allow him to use defense funds for wall construction.

"It is something he is considering, looking into," Pence said.

Democrats said Trump lacks the legal authority to declare such an emergency, and said Trump is using the wall as a political excuse to shut down the government.

The administration on Monday also unveiled the border security plan it has presented to congressional Democratic negotiators.

The proposal begins with $5.7 billion "for construction of a steel barrier for the Southwest border," the very proposal the Democrats object to.

Trump and aides have cast the request for a steel barrier as a concession from the concrete structure they once advocated; many Democrats say they see no real difference between the two types of walls.

Other administration requests: $563 million for 75 additional immigration judges and support staff; $211 million for 750 additional border patrol agents; $571 million for 2,000 additional law enforcement personnel and staff; $4.2 billion for 52,000 additional detention beds; and $800 million to address "urgent humanitarian needs."

In a letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the administration also requested $631 million for "counter-narcotics/weapons technology."

"It's more than a wall," Pence said. "A lot more."

Pence said he and his team will be briefing lawmakers throughout the week.

The White House has not said which state Trump plans to visit on his border excursion this week.

Trump traveled to San Diego in May to view prototypes of his proposed wall. Congress has approved additional money for border security in the past but has specifically prohibited any of it from being spent on new wall designs.

Congress responds: 'The goal is not to open up the government': Sen. Graham says no shutdown end without wall

Presidential powers: President Trump could declare a national emergency. But would that get him funds for a wall?

At least one Republican was already giving Trump advice about his speech.

"When [you] give [your] tv speech Tuesday night deliver it as if [you] were conversing with Iowans not New Yorkers," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, posted on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Trump to address nation, visit southern border Thursday to tout wall


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