WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is ramping up his efforts to make a public case for his border wall as the partial government shutdown is now in its third week, planning a prime-time address Tuesday night and a visit to the border Thursday.
Trump announced the news of his presidential address in a Monday tweet.
“I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” he said. “Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.”
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump will travel to the U.S. border with Mexico on Thursday.
“President @realDonaldTrump will travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis,” she said. “More details will be announced soon.”
The presidential speech and visit come amid the continuing partial government shutdown and Trump’s insistence that any funding bill to reopen federal agencies include $5.7 billion for his border wall.
Trump made his first visit to the border as president 10 months ago. During that trip, Trump toured 30-foot-tall steel and concrete prototypes of the border wall in California and strongly condemned jurisdictions that offer “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants.
The White House on Monday did not immediately release details on the site of Trump’s planned visit. But the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice that airspace in the McAllen, Texas, vicinity would be restricted on Thursday due to a “VIP movement.”
The border city of 142,000 people is home to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility where migrants who have crossed illegally into the U.S. have been detained. First lady Melania Trump also visited a shelter for migrant children in McAllen in June.
Trump and congressional Democrats remain at an impasse on crafting a deal to reopen the government, which is in its 17th day of a partial shutdown. Democrats, who retook control of the House last week, have passed measures that would fund the federal agencies affected, but Trump has balked at any legislation that does not meet his demand for border wall funding. Talks over the weekend showed no signs of a breakthrough, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain furloughed.
Trump said Sunday that he understood the predicament facing federal workers who are not receiving their paychecks.
“I can relate, and I’m sure the people who are on the receiving end will make adjustments; they always do,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. He also claimed that “many of those people agree with what I’m doing”: refusing to reopen the government without obtaining funding for the wall, one of his signature campaign promises.
With the impact of the partial shutdown rippling across the country, acting White House budget director Russell Vought sent a letter to congressional leaders Sunday detailing the administration’s demands.
The letter called for $5.7 billion “for construction of a steel barrier for the Southwest border” but also proposed “an additional $800 million to address urgent humanitarian needs” and unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the border.
In a tweet Sunday night, Trump sought to put a positive spin on the ongoing negotiations, describing them as “productive” and declaring that “we are now planning a Steel Barrier rather than concrete.”
But a Democratic official said no progress was made over the weekend, in large part because the White House has not been forthcoming about how the money would be used or why the request is for so much more than the administration sought only a few months ago.
Trump has said in recent days that he might seek to unilaterally secure border wall funding by declaring a national emergency, a move that experts say would be of questionable legality.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sharply criticized Trump on Sunday for raising that possibility, suggesting in an interview with CBS News that the president “would like to not only close government, build a wall, but also abolish Congress so the only voice that mattered was his own.”
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