Gra­ham urges gov­ern­ment re­boot

Give it a trial run for three weeks, se­na­tor sug­gests

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WASHINGTON - By Dar­lene Su­perville The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — A Repub­li­can law­maker ad­vis­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he is en­cour­ag­ing the pres­i­dent to re­open the gov­ern­ment for sev­eral weeks to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with Democrats over fund­ing for a U.s.-mex­ico bor­der wall be­fore the pres­i­dent takes the more dras­tic step of declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency.

But Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham also said Trump wants to reach a deal for the wall be­fore re­open­ing shut­tered gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in­sists that Trump re­open the gov­ern­ment first.

“Be­fore he pulls the plug on the leg­isla­tive op­tion, and I think we’re al­most there, I would urge him to open up the gov­ern­ment for a short pe­riod of time, like three weeks, be­fore he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal,” Gra­ham, a South Carolina Repub­li­can, said on “Fox News Sun­day.” “If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off.”

“See if he can do it by him­self through the emer­gency pow­ers. That’s my rec­om­men­da­tion,” added Gra­ham, who has pub­licly pushed Trump to use his author­ity to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to build the wall.

Such a step would al­low Trump to by­pass Congress and tap var­i­ous pots of un­spent fed­eral money, in­clud­ing for mil­i­tary con­struc­tion and dis­as­ter re­lief and from as­set seized by law en­force­ment, to pay for the wall.

Trump has kept Wash­ing­ton on edge over whether he would re­sort to such a dec­la­ra­tion, cit­ing a “cri­sis” of drug smug­gling and the traf­fick­ing of women and chil­dren at the bor­der. The pres­i­dent has said sev­eral times since he first men­tioned the idea in pub­lic this month that he prefers to try to reach a deal with Congress.

Gra­ham, who said he and Trump talked by tele­phone Sun­day morn­ing, said the leg­isla­tive path “is just about shut off ” and blamed Pelosi.

The speaker’s of­fice had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

Democrats op­pose an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion but may be pow­er­less to block it. Some Repub­li­cans are wary, too, fear­ing how a fu­ture Demo­cratic pres­i­dent might use that author­ity. Such a move would al­most cer­tainly be chal­lenged in the courts.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-del., called Gra­ham’s idea of re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment a “great place to start.”

“I do think if we re­open the gov­ern­ment, if the pres­i­dent ends this shut­down cri­sis, we have folks who can ne­go­ti­ate a re­spon­si­ble, modern in­vest­ment in tech­nol­ogy that will ac­tu­ally make us safer,” Coons said on “Fox News Sun­day.” Trump has main­tained that the bor­der can­not be se­cured with­out a wall.

Gra­ham said he thinks Trump is will­ing to ac­cept the $5.7 bil­lion he has in­sisted on for the wall, along with some im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures Democrats might find ac­cept­able, such as help­ing im­mi­grants who were il­le­gally brought to the U.S. as chil­dren.

Pelosi has shown no in­ter­est in ac­cept­ing a wall in ex­change for im­mi­gra­tion fixes.

And Trump ap­peared to shoot down Gra­ham’s sug­ges­tion of a “wall plus” deal, say­ing on Twit­ter that even Democrats don’t want to make “Dream­ers” part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“The dam­age done to our Coun­try from a badly bro­ken Bor­der — Drugs, Crime and so much that is bad — is far greater than a Shut­down, which the Dems can eas­ily fix as soon as they come back to Wash­ing­ton!” Trump said in a sep­a­rate tweet.

Lind­sey Gra­ham

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