Trump to visit border, White House announces amid shutdown, wall fight

Democrats agreed there had been little movement Saturday, saying the White House did not budge on the president's key demand, $5.6 billion to build a wall along the U.S. Every hour that goes by this week without a deal makes it more and more likely that some 800,000 federal workers - even those who have been required to work over the 17 days of the partial shutdown, would not be getting paid.

The idea has met pushback from some, including California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that he did not think Trump would be able to use emergency powers to build a wall at the southern border.

Trump has not yet made a decision on declaring a national emergency, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters, adding that the White House counsel's office is looking at the legality of such a declaration and urging the Democrats to get back to the negotiating table. 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. "It's criminals, it's drugs, it's human trafficking, where they grab women and sell them".

Trump had once vowed to build a concrete border wall, but now says it will be made of steel slats.

'I've always thought that the debate over what the physical barrier should be constructed of was rather freaky, ' she said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'We do need to strengthen our border security.

"That should help us move in the right direction", he said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did not show his hand when asked whether the White House offer to move away from a concrete structure was evidence of compromise. She called debate over border wall types "bizarre". He said they indicated this because it came up in the weekend meetings when the staffers asked where additional funding for border security would come from.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would begin considering individual appropriations bills this week that would reopen the government, starting with legislation that would return workers to the Treasury Department, including the IRS, followed by measures to open the departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and the Interior. The White House said money was not discussed in depth, but the administration was clear about the need for a wall and the goal of resolving the shutdown all at once, not piecemeal. Two sick migrant children have died in the past month after crossing the border and being taken into custody by federal authorities, and about 50 illegal immigrants per day are in need of medical treatment at hospitals.

"Let's get those reopened while the negotiations continue, " Collins said on NBC's "Meet the Press". The Washington Post reported that millions of low-income Americans will face cuts to food benefits.

But Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said that while he thought the shutdown was "going to drag on a lot longer", Trump's shift in wall materials could provide a semantic opening to advance the talks.

One of the officials says no new meetings have been scheduled. It may have been a tactic created to push Democrats to do a deal but Trump's opponents said such a move would be, in the words of congressman Adam Schiff, a "non-starter", subject to fierce opposition and legal challenges.

  • Tracy Klein