Donald Trump mulls wall of steel for border

Updated: Jan 09, 2019, 11:49 IST | Agencies

The US President's suggestion comes as the country trudges through the second longest shutdown in history

Donald Trump mulls wall of steel for border
The Trump government has been demanding a wall at Mexico border

With no breakthrough in sight, President Donald Trump will argue his case to the nation on Tuesday night that a "crisis" at the US-Mexico border requires the long and invulnerable wall he's demanding before ending the partial government shutdown.

The talks over ending the shutdown have been at an impasse over Trump's demand for the wall. He has offered to build the barrier with steel rather than concrete, billing that as a concession to Democrats' objections. They "don't like concrete, so we'll give them steel," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers face missed paychecks as the shutdown drags through a third week. Trump's Oval Office speech will be followed by his visit to the southern border on Thursday to highlight his demand for a barrier.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that he will use the visit to "meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis." The administration is also talking about declaring a national emergency to allow Trump to move forward on the wall without Congress approving the $5.6 billion he wants.

Vice President Mike Pence said the White House counsel's office is looking at the idea. Such a move would certainly draw legal challenges, and Trump has said he would like to continue negotiations.

Newly empowered House Democrats stepped up pressure on GOP lawmakers to reopen the government without giving in to the president's demands. The closure, which has lasted 17 days, is already the second-longest in history and would become the longest this weekend. The shutdown has furloughed 3,80,000 federal workers and forced another 4,20,000 to work without pay.

Leaning on Senate Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would begin passing individual bills this week that would reopen federal agencies, starting with the Treasury Department to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds. Democrats have made clear that they object to the wall itself, not how it's constructed. They see it as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed-upon levels.

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