Trump vows to bypass Congress and use US military to build border wall

Comments come hours before meeting with top Democrat lawmakers, Pelosi and Schumer

Trump repeatedly clashed with incoming House majority leader Nancy Pelosi and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer in a highly-fraught encounter in the White House played out in front of the media. Video: The White House

 

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to go around Congress and utilize the US military to build a wall along the US-Mexico border even if he does not get funding, just hours before he was to meet with the top two Democratic lawmakers.

In a series of early-morning tweets, Mr Trump praised his administration’s moves to block migrants at the US border with Mexico and said efforts to stop a caravan of migrants seeking to reach the United States were a success, and vowed that “the Wall will get built”.

The president has made funding for the border wall, a campaign promise, a central issue as Congress seeks to finalise spending before some federal government funding expires on December 21st. Mr Trump wants $5 billion (€4.4 billion) for the structure.

“If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall,” Trump said on Twitter ahead of the 11.30am EST (16.30 GMT) meeting.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi – who has called building a wall “immoral” – are expected to offer just $1.3 billion (€1.1 billion) for border security when they meet with Mr Trump, a senior Democratic aide said.

This is less than the $1.6 billion (€1.4 billion) a bipartisan Senate committee has approved, but it would extend current funding levels at the Department of Homeland Security until September 30th.

Caravan ‘invasion’

Democrats say that what Mr Trump wants cannot pass Congress, and warn that if Mr Trump insists on his way, part of the government could be forced into a shutdown.

Congress has not yet approved spending bills for about a quarter of the government.

Even though Congress is still controlled by Republicans until year’s end, Democrats are needed to get the supermajority required to clear Senate procedural hurdles on spending legislation.

Asked what her message to Mr Trump would be, Ms Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday: “Let’s meet the needs of the American people . . . that’s our responsibility.” Asked if a compromise was possible, she said, “We’ll see.”

Mr Trump deployed the US military to the border area before November 6th congressional elections, calling the caravan an “invasion.” Critics decried the action as politically motivated.

For Mr Trump and his Republicans, it may be their last chance to get wall funding before Democrats take over the majority in the new House of Representatives in January.

But Democrats on the verge of House power may be disinclined to compromise, and Ms Pelosi may be wary of looking weak as she is seeking to be elected House speaker next year. – Reuters