‘No emergency declaration to end shutdown’
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump said he was holding off on declaring a state of emergency to end the partial US government shutdown that dragged into a 23rd day on Sunday, as he insisted on $5.7 billion to build a Mexico border wall that c ongressi onal Democrats oppose.
Asked by Fox News why he didn’t immediately declare a national emergency to secure the funds without congressional approval, Trump said he wanted to give opposition Democratic lawmakers more time to strike a deal.
“I want to give them the chance to see if they can act responsibly,” he told Fox in an inter view late on Saturday.
The US government shutdown became the longest on record at midnight on Friday, when it overtook a 21-day stretch in 1995-1996 under then-President Bill Clinton.
Trump fired off a series of tweets on Saturday in an effort to defend his stance and goad Democrats to return to Washington and end what he called “the massive humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border”.
“Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes!” he said in one tweet, adding in another, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their ‘vacations’ and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign!”
But most lawmakers left town on Friday and will not return before Monday, leaving little chance for any solution to the stalemate before then.
The impasse has paralysed Washington – its impact felt i nc r e a s i n g l y a r ou nd t he countr y – with the president refusing to sign off on budgets for s wat hs of gover n ment departments unrelated to the dispute.
As a result, 800,000 federal employees – including FBI agents, air traffic controllers and museum staff – received no paychecks on Friday.
At a White House meeting on Friday Trump described an emergency declaration as the “easy way out”, and said Congress had to step up to the responsibility of approving funding for the wall.
“If t hey can’t do it . . . I will declare a national emergency. I have t he absolute right,” he said.
Trump however acknowledged that such a move would likely trigger a legal battle ending in the Supreme Court.
Opponents say such a unilateral presidential move would be constitutional overreach and set a dangerous precedent in similar controversies.
Trump pushed back on Saturday on a media report that his White House was “chaotic” with no plan or strategy to end the shutdown.
To understand the plan “you would have to understand the fact t hat I won t he election, and I promised . . . a Wall at the Sout her n Border. Elect ions h a v e c on s e quenc e s ! ” he tweeted.
For the president, who visited t he Texas border wit h Mexico on Thursday, the border situation amounts to an invasion by criminals. Only in recent days has he beg un descr ibi ng t he problem as “humanitarian”.
Some studies show that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than people born in the US.