Gra­ham urges Trump to re­open gov­ern­ment for awhile

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAR­LENE SU­PERVILLE As­so­ci­ated Press

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., who is close to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, says he has been push­ing the pres­i­dent to re­open the gov­ern­ment for a few weeks to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with Democrats over fund­ing for a bor­der wall.

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 that may be wish­ful think­ing, given that Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham also says Trump still wants to reach a deal for the wall be­fore agree­ing to re­open shut­tered gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a lead­ing Demo­cratic ne­go­tia­tor, in­sists that Trump re­open the gov­ern­ment first.

The weeks-old stand­off over fund­ing led to the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that hit day 23 on Sun­day with no end in sight.

“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,” said Gra­ham, a South Carolina Repub­li­can. “If we can’t [get a deal] 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 pub-

licly 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 what he says is a “cri­sis” of drug smug­gling and the traf­fick­ing of women and chil­dren at the bor­der. The pres­i­dent ini­tially sounded as though such a move was im­mi­nent but then pulled back. He has said sev­eral times since he first men­tioned the idea in pub­lic ear­lier this month that he prefers to try to reach a deal with Con­gress.

A key ques­tion is how much more time is Trump will­ing to give law­mak­ers. Gra­ham, who said he and Trump talked by phone Sun­day, 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, should Trump go that route, would al­most cer­tainly be chal­lenged in the courts.

Sen. Chris Coons, DDel., called Gra­ham’s idea to re­open 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.”

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.

Trump has ex­pressed in­ter­est in a broader im­mi­gra­tion over­haul, but says he first wants the Supreme Court to ad­dress the class of im­mi­grants known as “Dream­ers.” Pelosi also has shown no in­ter­est in ac­cept­ing a wall — she has called it an “im­moral­ity” — in ex­change for im­mi­gra­tion fixes.

And, Trump, who was holed up in the White House as snow blan­keted Wash­ing­ton on Sun­day, 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.

The White House has been lay­ing the ground­work for an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion, feared by mem­bers of both par­ties.

Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ron John­son, R-Wis., said he would “hate to see” a dec­la­ra­tion be­cause then the wall wouldn’t get built, pre­sum­ably be­cause of le­gal chal­lenges. Democrats voted in the past for bor­der se­cu­rity and should again, he said. “I ac­tu­ally want to see this wall get built,” John­son said. “I want to keep pres­sure on Democrats to ac­tu­ally come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble in good faith and fund what they have sup­ported in the past.”

But Gra­ham, who fa­vors a pres­i­den­tial dec­la­ra­tion, said the time for talk is run­ning out: “It’s the last op­tion, not the first op­tion, but we’re pretty close to that be­ing the only op­tion.”

Gra­ham and Coons were on “Fox News Sun­day.” John­son was on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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