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Trump set to declare national emergency as shutdown hits 21 days

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President Donald Trump appeared close on Friday to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and get funding for his Mexico – US border wall project in a political crisis that saw 800 , 000 federal employees go without paychecks .
After a meeting with Trump at the White House , his powerful Republican ally , Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted , “ Mr . President , Declare a national emergency NOW . Build a wall NOW . ”

Trump ’ s demand for $ 5 . 7 billion to fund border wall construction has morphed from a crowd – pleasing campaign slogan to an epic political fight paralysing Washington , setting an ominous precedent for the remaining two years of the real estate magnate ’ s troubled first term .

Trump tweeted on Friday that the situation on the Mexican border was “ an invasion ” and insisting that without a wall , “ our Country cannot be safe . Criminals , Gangs , Human Traffickers , Drugs & so much other big trouble . ”

But unable to persuade opposition Democrats to give him the money , Trump refused three weeks ago to sign off on a large chunk of unrelated government funding .

On Friday, that partial government shutdown hit the 21 – day mark , equaling the record from previous funding freezes and marking the first day in the saga that paychecks failed to appear for workers as well as FBI agents , air traffic controllers and museum staff around the country.

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Trump hoped the shutdown would pressure Congress into giving him the wall money but the Democrats , who control the House of Representatives , haven ’ t budged , saying they won ’ t even discuss wall funding before government is fully reopened .
The impasse leaves Trump with few options other than to relent or to declare a national emergency on the Mexican border , giving himself authority to sidestep Congress and order wall funds to be squeezed from other budgets .

He appears ever closer to taking the second option , which opponents say would likely be challenged in court as a case of presidential overreach .

On Thursday , Trump took his message to the Texas border with Mexico and insisted once more that he has “ the absolute right to declare a national emergency. ”

In preparation for the possible emergency move, the White House has asked the military to look into diverting funds currently allocated for disaster relief to the wall , US media reported — a move that would heighten the polemic .

( AFP )

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