Gra­ham urges Trump to re­open gov­ern­ment for a few weeks

Pawtucket Times - - BLACKSTONE VALLEY / NATION -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — 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 with­out an 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 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 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 tele­phone on 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, should Trump ul­ti­mately go that route, would al­most cer­tainly be chal­lenged in the courts.

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