Trump not ready to de­clare emer­gency to end shut­down

Miami Herald - - NATION - BY CATHER­INE LUCEY, LISA MAS­CARO AND ZEKE MILLER As­so­ci­ated Press

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tamped down ex­pec­ta­tions that he is close to declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency to get the money he de­sires to build his long-promised U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der wall as a three-week im­passe clos­ing parts of the govern­ment con­tin­ued on Fri­day.

Mean­while, some 800,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees, more than half still on the job, missed their first pay­check un­der a stop­page that tied a record for the long­est govern­ment shut­down. With the clo­sure’s grow­ing im­pact on the econ­omy, na­tional parks and food in­spec­tions, some Repub­li­cans are be­com­ing un­com­fort­able with Trump’s de­mands.

Law­mak­ers tried to re­as­sure fed­eral em­ploy­ees that Congress was aware of the fi­nan­cial hard­ship they are en­dur­ing. By a vote of 411-7, the House passed a bill that all govern­ment work­ers re­ceive retroac­tive pay after the par­tial shut­down ends. The Se­nate ap­proved the bill unan­i­mously Thurs­day. The pres­i­dent is ex­pected to sign the legislation.

Trump vis­ited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thurs­day to high­light a cri­sis of drugs and crime along the bor­der. He sug­gested that if he can­not reach an agree­ment with House Democrats on fund­ing the bor­der wall, he would de­clare a na­tional emer­gency.

But speak­ing to state and lo­cal lead­ers Fri­day, Trump said he wasn’t ready to do that just yet. He said law­mak­ers can also take that step, even though there’s no in­di­ca­tion they would.

The “easy so­lu­tion is for me to call a na­tional emer­gency … but I’m not go­ing to do it so fast,” Trump said.

By­pass­ing Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional con­trol of the na­tion’s purse strings would lead to cer­tain le­gal chal­lenges and bi­par­ti­san charges of ex­ec­u­tive over­reach. Trump said his lawyers had told him the ac­tion would with­stand le­gal scru­tiny “100 per­cent.”

The wall was the cen­tral prom­ise of Trump’s win­ning cam­paign in 2016. Sup­port­ers have tried to con­vince him that an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion is the best op­tion to end the shut­down and would give him po­lit­i­cal cover to re­open the govern­ment with­out ap­pear­ing to be cav­ing on his pledge.

The White House has di­rected the Army Corps of En­gi­neers to comb through its budget in search of money for the wall, in­clud­ing look­ing at $13.9 bil­lion in un­spent disaster re­lief funds ear­marked for ar­eas in­clud­ing hur­ri­cane-dam­aged Puerto Rico, Texas and more than a dozen other states. That’s ac­cord­ing to a con­gres­sional aide and ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the re­quest.

JAC­QUE­LYN MARTIN AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump leads a roundtable dis­cus­sion on bor­der se­cu­rity on Fri­day in the Cabi­net Room of the White House. He is ex­pected to sign legislation to en­sure that fed­eral em­ploy­ees will re­ceive back pay once the shut­down ends.

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