President Trump called the situation at the US-Mexico border a "humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul" in a national address Tuesday night—but he stopped short of declaring a formal emergency in order to get a border wall built. In his brief speech, the president again called for $5.7 billion to build a wall, which he said would actually be a "steel barrier," reports Politico. In a quick rebuttal, Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of "manufacturing a crisis" at the border, per the AP, and she and Chuck Schumer reiterated that Democrats would not pay for any such barrier. The president, meanwhile, maintained that the wall "would quickly pay for itself," arguing that its cost would "indirectly" be covered by savings from the new trade pact with Mexico.
Trump also said that "our Southern border is a vast pipeline for illegal drugs," and he again asserted that criminals crossing the border were endangering American lives. The impasse over funding for the proposed wall is at the center of the partial government shutdown, now in its 18th day. The president said the government “remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security," per the Washington Post. Countered Pelosi: "The fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government." The White House has been considering the possibility of Trump declaring a national emergency, a controversial move through which he would divert military money and resources to build a barrier without congressional approval. (Read more President Trump stories.)