Washington – President Donald Trump will travel to the U.S. border with Mexico on Thursday, the White House announced Monday.
The visit comes amid the continuing partial government shutdown and the president’s insistence that any funding bill to reopen federal agencies include $5.7 billion for his border wall.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced the planned visit in a tweet Monday.
“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.”
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.
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 certain the general population who are in a bad way will make changes; 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 T. 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 on the other hand why the demand is for far beyond the organization looked for just a couple of months back.
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 criticised Trump on Sunday for raising that possibility, suggesting in an interview with CBS News that the president “would like to not only close government, manufacture a divider, yet in addition annul Congress so the main voice that made a difference was his own.”
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