The government shutdown caused by the border wall standoff is now in its 21st day—tied for the longest ever—and both sides are braced for President Trump to use his emergency powers to break the impasse and pay for the wall. Many Republicans are uncomfortable with the idea, but Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said it was time for the move Thursday, CNN reports. Nancy Pelosi's "refusal to negotiate" on funding "virtually ends the congressional path to funding for a border wall/barrier," Graham said in a statement. "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier." He acknowledged that such a move would face court challenges to determine whether it fits the "statutory definition of emergency." More:
- Trump eyes disaster funding. Sources tell the Washington Post that Trump may be preparing to get the Army to build the wall, using some of the $13.9 billion allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers for public works projects in a disaster spending bill passed after devastating floods and wildfires last year. The sources say Trump is also eyeing money in the military construction budget. Several Republicans have criticized the plan. "I don't like the idea of pulling money out of defense and military construction and the Army Corps of Engineers," says Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho. "That’s not a good option."
- Advisers urge caution. Advisers including Jared Kushner are urging Trump to find a less "aggressive" solution to the standoff, according to the New York Times. Sources say the aides have warned Trump that an emergency declaration may be unlikely to survive court challenges.
- "Over the next few days." During his visit to the border Thursday, Trump told Sean Hannity that he would decide on an emergency declaration "over the next few days. "If we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that," Trump said, per the HuffPost. "I can’t imagine any reason why not, because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100% on my side."
- California targeted? Democratic Rep. John Garamendi says he has been told that Army Corps of Engineers projects in California and Puerto Rico that aren't yet under contract may be "reprogrammed" to provide funds for the wall, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Each of these flood-control projects are specifically designed to save the lives of millions of Americans," he says. "If it’s not done this year, or next year, will it make a difference? Maybe not, or maybe it will make all the difference."
- Democratic response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn't say how the House would respond to an emergency declaration, the Post reports. "If and when the president does that, you'll find out how we will react," she said. "But I think the president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power." Other Democrats said the declaration would be a good way to unify the party while dividing Republicans.
- Mexico paying? The BBC reports that Trump's claim Thursday that he "never meant Mexico would cut a check" when he spoke of having Mexico pay for the wall was contradicted by an archived campaign memo in which he outlined a plan to compel Mexico to make a "one-time payment of $5-10 billion."
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