Democrats dig in as President Trump pushes wall | News Coverage from USA

Democrats dig in as President Trump pushes wall

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi strongly rebuffed President Donald Trump’s call Tuesday night for billions in funding for a border wall to solve “a growing humanitarian and security and crisis in our southern border.”

Democrats began delivering their response at 9:14 p.m. EST, after Trump concluded his nationally televised remarks, which began at 9:01. Here’s what they’re saying:

9:15 p.m.: Pelosi, the House Speaker, said that “sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The President has chosen fear.”

She was referencing referenced how House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions.

9:16 p.m.: Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said Trump has “failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall,” and has been “unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill.”

9:18 p.m.: Schumer went on to say “there is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation – supported by Democrats and Republicans – to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.”

Democrats remain adamantly opposed to the $5.7 billion the president is demanding for the wall.

Their solution: Better technology. Increased hiring for ports of entry. Improved infrastructure, such as fencing.

Democrats also unveiled legislation last year to expand refugee processing in Central American countries and to disrupt drug cartels.

The standoff has resulted in a partial government shutdown, now in its third week.

Faced with a divided Congress that won’t support his request for wall funding, Trump is exploring other options to secure funding for the construction of a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border, including using the president’s emergency powers to circumvent Congress altogether. 

“We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” Trump said Friday. “But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we are giving that a shot.”

There’s legal debate on whether he can do that but Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Trump’s invocation of his emergency powers “really threatening talk” that “he doesn’t have the power to execute.” 

“If Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion-dollar wall on the border,” Schiff told CNN.

A Morning Consult/POLITICO poll released Tuesday finds that a plurality of registered voters agree with Trump that there’s a “crisis” on the Southern border because of illegal immigration.

The survey of 1,989 registered voters, conducted Jan. 4-6, found that 42 percent of voters agree with the president compared to 37 percent who see the border situation as just “a problem.” Another 12 percent say it’s neither.

The poll also showed that Americans are divided on support for the wall (44 percent support while 47 percent oppose). And nearly half – 47 percent – blame Trump for the shutdown, compared to Congressional Democrats (33 percent) and Congressional Republicans (5 percent).

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Trump’s claims of a border being overrun by terrorists and criminals is nothing but fiction since arrests have dropped by 75 percent from 2000 and 2018.

“Tonight, the President will assert that the security of our Nation is in crisis,” Leahy said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “But his claims will not be grounded in fact. The disinformation coming from the White House has been staggering. In his zeal to feign a national emergency at the border, the president has employed nothing short of a propaganda campaign.”

Related: If they don’t want a wall, what are Democrats’ border security solutions?

Related: Government shutdown: Congress back at work, Trump to give prime-time address. Will it matter?

Contributing: William Cummings and John Fritze


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