In praising federal workers during a speech outside the White House, POTUS called them “patriots” who have been willing to sacrifice for the good of the country.
But he made clear that he planned to “use a very powerful alternative” at his disposal — a declaration of national emergency — if the 21-day funding bill expires without a deal with Congress involving money for his wall.
“I want to thank all the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” the president said. “You are fantastic people, you are incredible patriots, many of you have suffered far greater than anyone but your families would know or understand.”
POTUS said at points throughout the shutdown he was regularly “encouraged” by federal employees “to keep going” in his push for border security including new sections of wall that Border Patrol officials have said not only work but are vital in stopping illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and other criminal activity.
The president did not say whether the 21-day agreement included any money for his border wall, leaving most to speculate it was not part of this deal. However, POTUS said he believes that both Democrats and Republicans had negotiated in good faith to get the current deal done, leaving the impression that border wall funding would be forthcoming by next month when the current spending bill expires.
If not, the president said he’s prepared to act.
“So let me be very clear,” he said, “we really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security.” (Related: POTUS Trump now heavily leaning towards national emergency declaration after Dems keep jerking him around over wall funding.)
The president said that if he and Congress managed to make “a fair deal,” Americans “would be proud of their government for proving that we can put country before party.
“We can show all Americans and people all around the world that both political parties are united when it comes to protecting our country and protecting our people.”
POTUS acknowledged that while “many disagree” — likely a reference to conservatives who comprise the majority of his base — he believes it is important to work with Democrats and Republicans to get a border security and government funding package both sides can agree on.
“Walls should not be controversial,” the president said, noting that the government has built more than 650 miles of border barriers over the last 15 years.
It’s not clear whether one specific Democratic leader — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California — is willing to compromise, however. In recent weeks she has called a border wall “immoral” and has refused multiple attempts by the president to negotiate a compromise. In addition, too few Democrats supported GOP bills aimed at paying federal workers during the shutdown that reached the House floor for a vote.
That said, some Democrats — leaders and rank-and-file members — have broken publicly with Pelosi and are calling on her to deal with the president on the issue of wall funding so that a long-term spending bill that keeps the government operating can be done.
“Look, I think physical barriers are part of the solution. … If it’s protecting people, it’s moral. … So we’re for border security and I think we can get there,” the House’s No. 2 ranking Democrat, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said this month.
Read more about how voting Democrat has hampered progress on a border wall at VoteDemocrat.news.