Trump won’t back down on bor­der wall, se­na­tor says

San Francisco Chronicle - - NATION - By Dar­lene Su­perville

WASH­ING­TON — A lead­ing Se­nate Repub­li­can says Pres­i­dent Trump isn’t giv­ing in on his de­mands for a wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, the is­sue that’s caused the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that’s now in its fourth week.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham said he en­cour­aged Trump dur­ing a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion Sun­day to re­open gov­ern­ment for a pe­riod of weeks to try to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with Democrats that would break the im­passe. But the South Carolina Repub­li­can said Trump wants a deal first.

Demo­cratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has in­sisted that Trump end the shut­down first be­fore any ne­go­ti­at­ing takes place.

“I tried to see if we could open up the gov­ern­ment for a lim­ited pe­riod of time to ne­go­ti­ate a deal,” Gra­ham said. “The pres­i­dent says ‘Let’s make a deal, then open up the gov­ern­ment.’ ... He’s not go­ing to give in.”

The as­sess­ment from Gra­ham, who is close to Trump, sug­gested the shut­down could last for weeks longer, if not months, in­flict­ing ad­di­tional fi­nan­cial pain on the 800,000 fed­eral work­ers who have been idled or re­quired to work with­out pay for the du­ra­tion.

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

“Stop harm­ing our coun­try and our econ­omy and let’s make our best ef­forts be­cause we all agree we need to in­vest more in bor­der se­cu­rity,” Coons said.

Gra­ham said he thinks Trump is will­ing to ac­cept the level of wall fund­ing he is seek­ing, along with some im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures Democrats might find ac­cept­able, such as help­ing im­mi­grants who were il­le­gally brought to the U.S. as chil­dren.

But Trump has said that while he is in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing a broader over­haul of the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, he first wants to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about the group of im­mi­grants known as “Dream­ers.”

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

Gra­ham has been among the most out­spo­ken Repub­li­cans push­ing Trump to use his au­thor­ity to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to cir­cum­vent Con­gress and build the wall by tap­ping un­spent money sit­ting in var­i­ous gov­ern­ment ac­counts, in­clud­ing for mil­i­tary con­struc­tion and dis­as­ter re­lief.

Democrats op­pose such a dec­la­ra­tion but may be pow­er­less to stop it. Many Repub­li­cans are wary, too, fear­ing its use by a fu­ture Demo­cratic pres­i­dent.

“We don’t want it to come down to a na­tional emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion,” said House Repub­li­can Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. “Clearly the pres­i­dent’s got au­thor­ity un­der the law, but he’s said he doesn’t want it to come to that . ... Con­gress needs to solve this prob­lem.”

Gra­ham and Coons spoke on “Fox News Sun­day.” Scalise ap­peared on ABC’s “This Week.”

Dar­lene Su­per ville is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

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