Trump says military will build border wall if Democrats block funding
The president is meeting Democratic congressional leaders at the White House.
Donald Trump is pressing Democratic leaders to support his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the Mexico border, threatening to have the military build it “if Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country”.
The president tweeted the threat hours before Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi were scheduled to meet him at the White House in an effort to avert a possible partial government shutdown on December 21, when funding for some agencies is scheduled to expire.
In a series of tweets, Mr Trump said immigration and border patrol agents and thousands of active-duty service members he sent to the border had done a “fantastic” job, but “a great wall” would be “far easier”.
Despite the large Caravans that WERE forming and heading to our Country, people have not been able to get through our newly built Walls, makeshift Walls & Fences, or Border Patrol Officers & Military. They are now staying in Mexico or going back to their original countries.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
He said he looked forward to meeting with Mr Schumer and Ms Pelosi, but claimed they do not want border security for “strictly political reasons”.
“If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!” Mr Trump tweeted.
The two Democrats said on Monday that Republicans have the power to keep the government open since they control Congress and the White House.
“Our country cannot afford a Trump shutdown,” they said in a statement, adding that the president “knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement”.
.....Ice, Border Patrol and our Military have done a FANTASTIC job of securing our Southern Border. A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution. We have already built large new sections & fully renovated others, making them like new. The Democrats,.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
....however, for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease. Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Republican congressional leaders have repeatedly said it is up to Mr Trump to cut a deal with Democrats, an acknowledgment of their inability to produce spending bills with Republican votes alone.
That gives Democrats some momentum heading into the closed-door talks, which also could veer into Mr Trump’s request for emergency funding for deadly wildfires in California and a Republican-sponsored bill to extend expiring tax breaks and delay some health care taxes.
Before legislators adjourn for the year they also may consider a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, a law to protect special counsel Robert Mueller, and a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.
By far the biggest unresolved issue is the border wall. Mr Trump wants the next funding package to include at least 5 billion dollars (£4 billion) for it, an idea Democrats have flatly rejected.
.....I look forward to my meeting with Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi. In 2006, Democrats voted for a Wall, and they were right to do so. Today, they no longer want Border Security. They will fight it at all cost, and Nancy must get votes for Speaker. But the Wall will get built...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
....People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer have urged him to support a bill that includes half a dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by legislators, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels until September 30.
The homeland bill includes about 1.3 billion dollars (£1 billion) for fencing and other security measures at the border.
If Mr Trump rejects that, Democrats are likely to urge a continuing resolution that funds all the remaining appropriations bills at current levels until September 30, an aide said.
Ms Pelosi said she and many other Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive” and noted that Mr Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, an idea Mexico has repeatedly rejected.
Our country cannot afford a #TrumpShutdown, especially at this time of economic uncertainty. This holiday season, @realDonaldTrump knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House & Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 10, 2018
Protecting borders “is a responsibility we honour, but we do so by honouring our values as well,” she said last week.
Mr Schumer said Democrats want to work with Mr Trump to avert a shutdown, but said money for border security should not include the concrete wall Mr Trump has envisioned. Instead, the money should be used for fencing and technology that experts say is appropriate, he said.
“We do not want to let a Trump temper tantrum govern our policies or cause the shutdown of a government, which everyone on both sides of the aisle knows is the wrong idea,” he said.