As the shutdown dragged into its 20th day on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he will "probably" declare a national emergency over the southern border in an effort to bypass congress over his claim for the need for a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
"I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency," Trump told reporters outside the White House. "I haven't done it yet. I may do it. If this doesn't work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely."
When a reporter asked Trump why he hadn't gone ahead and declared the emergency yet, Trump said, "Because I would like to do the deal through Congress, and because it makes sense to do it through Congress."
Congress and the White House have gone back and forth over $5 billion in proposed funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a signature campaign promise by Trump. The president reiterated his support for the wall in a series of tweets on Thursday, one day after he walked out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
At least three GOP Senators including Susan Collins (R-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have called for an end to the shutdown and for the Senate to pass a "clean" continuing resolution. Another six senators have also voiced concerns over an extended partial government shutdown.
Last night, eight republican representatives in the House joined Democrats to pass a bill (240-188) that would reopen the IRS and other financial agencies ahead of tax season.
Schumer tweeted Thursday that he would demand McConnell take up the House bills to re-open the government.
"If Leader McConnell or Republicans object, thousands of federal workers—and the families who rely on them—will go without a paycheck," Schumer wrote.
Nearly three dozen major aviation groups sent Trump, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter urging them to reopen the government, lest it continue to downgrade various aspects of the aviation system, including TSA, FAA and air control.
"Every day I’m getting calls from my members about their extreme financial hardships and need for a paycheck. Some of them have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown," said AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas. "They are highly specialized in screening passengers and do so better than any private contractor, but we’re risking losing them by offering no pay for long hours and dangerous work."
The letter implores congressional leaders and the president to act now because the shutdown is "hampering our ability to function effectively," inflicting "real damage."
Trump flew to McAllen, Texas Thursday in an effort to draw attention to what he claims is a "humanitarian crisis" on the southern border.
Both sides seem entrenched, making a quick resolution to the partial shutdown unlikely at this stage. Democrats want the Senate to approve measures passed by the House (that do not contain any money for the wall) and treat border security as a separate issue.
Trump has threatened to veto any bill that does not contain funding for the wall and McConnell has said he will not bring any bill to the floor that the president will not sign.
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