WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not declare a national emergency “right now” to end a standoff over border security that has idled large swaths of the U.S. government, all but guaranteeing that he will preside over the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
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The dispute has disrupted everything from air travel to tax collection and suspended pay for 800,000 government workers.
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Trump has repeatedly described the situation at the U.S.- Mexico border as a “humanitarian crisis” as speculation has increased this week that he would circumvent Congress to begin building his signature wall – a move that would be sure to draw a court challenge from Democrats who say the barrier would be barbaric and ineffective.
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Instead, the president urged lawmakers to provide him the $5.7 billion he is seeking for border security.
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“The easy solution is for me to call a national emergency. I could do that very quickly,” Trump said during a White House event on border security. “I have the absolute right to do it. But I’m not going to do it so fast. Because this is something Congress should do.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mocked the president as she told reporters it was up to Trump to make the next move
“Let’s give him time to think it through. Think? Did I say think?” she said
Trump spoke after lawmakers had adjourned for the weekend, precluding any possible action until next week. On Saturday, the shutdown will become the longest in U.S. history.