President Trump said Thursday that he would "almost . . . definitely" declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build his long-promised border wall if Democratic lawmakers won't meet his demand for funding.
"If we don't make a deal, I would say it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency and just fund it through the various mechanisms," Trump told reporters outside the White House. "The only way you have a strong border is you have a wall or steel barrier. . . . I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency."
Thursday marks the 20th day of the partial federal government shutdown that began just before Christmas, when negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over border-security funding broke down. The president will travel to the border town of McAllen, Texas later in the day as part of his push for $5.7 billion to construct a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Democrats have so far refused to approve more than $1.6 billion for non-wall border security, and a meeting between the president and Democratic leaders ended abruptly after 20 minutes on Wednesday when Trump stormed out over House speaker Nancy Pelosi's refusal to meet his demand for border-wall funds.