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Trump ally urges president to reopen US government

Senator Lindsey Graham is urging Donald Trump to end the government shutdown for several weeks.

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Lindsey Graham has been talking with Donald Trump on the phone (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Lindsey Graham has been talking with Donald Trump on the phone (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Lindsey Graham has been talking with Donald Trump on the phone (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A Republican senator advising Donald Trump has said he is encouraging the president to reopen the government for several weeks to continue negotiating with Democrats over funding for a US-Mexico border wall.

But Lindsey Graham admitted Mr Trump still wants to reach a deal for the wall before agreeing to reopen closed government departments.

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Donald Trump says there is a crisis at the US-Mexico border wall (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump says there is a crisis at the US-Mexico border wall (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

AP/PA Images

Donald Trump says there is a crisis at the US-Mexico border wall (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a leading Democratic negotiator, insists that Mr Trump reopen the government first.

The weeks-old stand-off over funding led to the partial government shutdown that hit day 23 on Sunday without an end in sight.

“Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we’re almost there, I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal,” said Mr Graham, a South Carolina Republican. “If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off.”

Mr Graham, who has publicly pushed Mr Trump to use his authority to declare a national emergency to build the wall, continued: “See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers. That’s my recommendation.”

Such a step would allow Mr Trump to bypass Congress and tap various pots of unspent federal money, including for military construction and disaster relief and from assets seized by law enforcement, to pay for the wall.

Mr Trump has kept Washington on edge over whether he would resort to such a declaration, citing what he says is a “crisis” of drug smuggling and the trafficking of women and children at the border.

The president initially sounded as though such a move was imminent, but then pulled back. He has said several times since he first mentioned the idea in public earlier this month that he prefers to try to reach a deal with Congress.

A key question is how much more time is Mr Trump willing to give Congress. Mr Graham, who said he and Mr Trump talked by telephone on Sunday morning, said the legislative path “is just about shut off” and blamed Ms Pelosi.

Democrats oppose an emergency declaration but may be powerless to block it. Some Republicans are wary, too, fearing how a future Democratic president might use that authority. Such a move, should Mr Trump ultimately go down that route, would almost certainly be challenged in the courts.

Senator Chris Coons, called Mr Graham’s idea to reopen the government a “great place to start”.

“I do think if we reopen the government, if the president ends this shutdown crisis, we have folks who can negotiate a responsible, modern investment in technology that will actually make us safer,” Mr Coons said.

Mr Trump has maintained that the border cannot be secured without a wall.

PA Media