Trump suggests wall of steel for a budget deal with Democrats
07 January 2019
US President Donald Trump on Sunday offered a steel option to the planned wall along the US-Mexico border even as he refused to bend on his demand for a wall along the southern border. The barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete Trump said as a potential bait for Democrats to reopen talks for a deal.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Sunday, the President repeated his threat that if negotiations fail to deliver in the next few days, he could declare a national emergency and use the military to construct a wall, circumventing Congress.
He also said he was willing to accept a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall, although there is no reason for him to lower his demand for $5.6 billion in border security funding.
White House also signalled on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s move away from his demand that a proposed barrier along the southern border be a concrete wall, could reopen talks for a deal with the Democrats.
The so-called concession comes at the partial government shutdown resulting from the dispute that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers idle or without paychecks, entered the third week and looked set to "drag on a lot longer."
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said in an interview on NBC's `Meet the Press’ programme that agreeing to a steel separation would allow Democrats to stick to their refusal to fund a wall.
"That should help us move in the right direction," said Mulvaney, who heads the office of management and budget.
Democrats have signalled they could accept a deal that precluded a concrete wall but provided funding for a steel barrier. But they would likely demand other concessions, like protections for immigrants brought to the United States as children, otherwise known as Dreamers, or changes to other spending provisions.
Mulvaney said negotiations between his staff and congressional Democrats were bogged down in technical requests after the two sides met on Saturday morning.
"I think this is going to drag on a lot longer. I think that's by intention," said Mulvaney, who is serving as the top White House aide in an acting capacity.
Democratic Senator Doug Jones, appearing on the same program, said the White House has not presented a plan to use the money.
"I think that we have to talk about border security. We haven't seen a plan to talk about border security," Jones said. "I’m not going to give wall money just to give wall money. I'd like to see a plan for how that money is going to be spent."
Democrats, who took control of the House of Representatives last week, passed a bill to reopen the government without providing additional funding for the wall, and have insisted that reopening the government should not be contingent upon wall construction funds.
The shut-down of parts of the federal government started on 22 December after lawmakers and the president hit an impasse over Trump's demands to build a wall. About 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay.
Trump is demanding that any funding to keep the federal government operational also include $5.6 billion to begin building a $23 billion a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump said on Sunday that he should not have to lower his demand for $5.6 billion in border security funding.