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Trump says he ISN’T ready to declare a border emergency and wants to force congressional wall vote

President Donald Trump tamped down expectations that he is close to declaring a national emergency to get the money he desires to build his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall as a three-week impasse closing parts of the government continued on Friday.

Speaking to state and local leaders, Trump said he wasn’t ready to take that drastic step. He said lawmakers can also resolve the stalemate, even though there’s no indication they will.

The ‘easy solution is for me to call a national emergency … but I’m not going to do it so fast,’ Trump said. 

Instead Democrats in Congress ‘should come back and vote,’ Trump insisted. ‘We want Congress to do its job.’

‘What we’re not looking to do right now is [a] national emergency.’ 

President Donald Trump said Friday - after meeting more law enforcement officials from near the border - that he's not ready to declare a national emergency on the southern U.S. border, a move that would let him use existing military money to build his wall; he had said Thursday that if Congress doesn't give him new money for the project, he would declare the emergency

President Donald Trump said Friday – after meeting more law enforcement officials from near the border – that he’s not ready to declare a national emergency on the southern U.S. border, a move that would let him use existing military money to build his wall; he had said Thursday that if Congress doesn’t give him new money for the project, he would declare the emergency

Round table, no talks: Trump did not meet Democrats but did meet state and local law enforcement and 'community leaders' to discuss border security with his acting attorney general Matt Whitaker also present

Round table, no talks: Trump did not meet Democrats but did meet state and local law enforcement and ‘community leaders’ to discuss border security with his acting attorney general Matt Whitaker also present

Input: Trump spoke with  AJ Louderback, Sheriff of Jackson County, Texas, at the session on border security. The county is not on the botrder; the nearest crossings are around 250 miles away

Input: Trump spoke with  AJ Louderback, Sheriff of Jackson County, Texas, at the session on border security. The county is not on the botrder; the nearest crossings are around 250 miles away

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) oppose Trump’s wall funding demands; members of Congress left Washington for the weekend without voting to resolve the three-week-old partial government shutdown that has paralyzed much of D.C.

Much of the U.S.-Mexico border is already walled off; Trump's signature campaign promise was to copmlete the job whereever geographical features didn't make constrution unnecessary

Much of the U.S.-Mexico border is already walled off; Trump’s signature campaign promise was to copmlete the job whereever geographical features didn’t make constrution unnecessary

Some 800,000 federal employees, more than half still on the job, missed their first paycheck under a stoppage that tied a record for the longest government shutdown. With the closure’s growing impact on the economy, national parks and food inspections, some Republicans are becoming uncomfortable with Trump’s demands.

Lawmakers tried to reassure federal employees that Congress was aware of the financial hardship they are enduring. 

By a vote of 411-7, the House passed a bill requiring that all government workers receive retroactive pay after the partial shutdown ends. The Senate approved the bill unanimously Thursday. The president is expected to sign the legislation.

Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thursday to highlight what he calls a crisis of drugs and crime along the border. 

He suggested that if he cannot reach an agreement with House Democrats on funding the border wall, he would declare a national emergency.

Bypassing Congress’ constitutional control of the nation’s purse strings would lead to certain legal challenges and bipartisan charges of executive overreach. Trump said his lawyers had told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny ‘100 percent.’

Americans are split on the merits of spending the $5.7 billion Trump wants for his wall; supporters praised him Thursday in McAllen, Texas when he visited to see the bder zone firsthand

Americans are split on the merits of spending the $5.7 billion Trump wants for his wall; supporters praised him Thursday in McAllen, Texas when he visited to see the bder zone firsthand

In Boston, federal employees rallied to encourage lawmakers to reopen the government on the day they missed their first paychecks because of the shutdown

In Boston, federal employees rallied to encourage lawmakers to reopen the government on the day they missed their first paychecks because of the shutdown

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and President Donald Trump hosted a roundtable discussion on border security on Friday, part of the White House's push to keep the issue in the front of Americans' minds while the shutdown continues

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and President Donald Trump hosted a roundtable discussion on border security on Friday, part of the White House’s push to keep the issue in the front of Americans’ minds while the shutdown continues

The wall was the central promise of Trump’s winning campaign in 2016. Supporters have tried to convince him that an emergency declaration is the best option to end the shutdown and would give him political cover to reopen the government without appearing to be caving on his pledge.

But not everyone in the administration is on board.

Senior aide Jared Kushner, who traveled with the president to Texas, is among those urging caution on the declaration, according to a person familiar with Kushner’s thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

Trump is growing more frustrated as the shutdown drags on and is complaining that his aides are not offering him an exit strategy.

In the meantime, the administration has taken steps to lay the groundwork should Trump issue the declaration.

The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to comb through its budget in search of money for the wall, including looking at $13.9 billion in unspent disaster relief funds earmarked for areas including hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, Texas and more than a dozen other states. That’s according to a congressional aide and administration official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the request.

The president showed off an image, which he also tweeted, depitcing a section of 30-foot bollard wall that was erected last year with the first tranche of money Congress appropriated for him

The president showed off an image, which he also tweeted, depitcing a section of 30-foot bollard wall that was erected last year with the first tranche of money Congress appropriated for him

This portion of Bill Striffler's electronic pay stub provided by him to the Associated Press on Friday shows his recent pay to be $0.00 for his work as an air traffic controller at Newark Airport; some 800,000 federal employees, more than half still on the job, were due to miss their first paycheck Friday

This portion of Bill Striffler’s electronic pay stub provided by him to the Associated Press on Friday shows his recent pay to be $0.00 for his work as an air traffic controller at Newark Airport; some 800,000 federal employees, more than half still on the job, were due to miss their first paycheck Friday

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a lawmaker with a close relationship with the president, discounted that option, saying it was not ‘under very serious consideration.’

Defense Department officials had already been poring over data on more than $10 billion in military construction projects to determine how much of it would be available for emergency spending this year.

On Friday, officials in Puerto Rico said diverting disaster money to the wall was ‘unacceptable’ and that the island was struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that hit more than a year ago and caused more than $100 billion in damage

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the wall should not be funded ‘on the pain and suffering’ of U.S. citizens who have faced tragedy after a natural disaster.

It was not clear what a potential compromise between the White House and Congress might entail. Efforts at negotiating a broader immigration deal involving immigrants brought to the country illegally as children collapsed with little progress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said at one point that he didn’t ‘see a path in Congress’ to end the shutdown, then stated later that enough was enough: ‘It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier.’

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Washington headquarters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and pledged that the administration will keep fighting for the border wall.

‘Just as you fight every day to keep our nation safe, this president and this administration will keep fighting to build the wall and give you the resources and reforms you need to do your job,’ Pence told several dozen unformed agents. ‘That’s my promise.’

The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

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