WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday that President Donald Trump should agree to reopen the government and continue trying to hammer out a deal with Democrats on funding his long-promised border wall – but that the president should declare a national emergency if no progress is made in three weeks.
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham maintained that Trump is not going to give up on his demand for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But he argued that reopening the government and attempting to find a legislative solution, then declaring a national emergency if those talks don’t bear fruit, is the best way forward.
“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug. See if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off. See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers,” Graham said.
Waiting three weeks would take the negotiations past Trump’s State of the Union address later this month.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more Americans blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown than congressional Democrats. Fifty-three percent of respondents blame the president and Republicans, while 29 percent blame Democrats. Thirteen percent blame both equally.
More Americans remain opposed to the idea of a border wall than support it, the poll found, although the margin has narrowed over the past year.
Trump continued making his case for the wall in Sunday morning tweets, arguing that it “will bring down the crime rate throughout the entire Country!” He again sought to blame Democrats, who he said were “everywhere but Washington as people await their pay.”
“I’m in the White House, waiting,” Trump said, accusing Democrats of “having fun and not even talking!”
Trump also suggested that he is open to including protections for “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country illegally as children, as part of a deal. But last week, Trump shot down a deal floated by Senate Republicans that would have included those protections, and he has repeatedly said that he plans to wait until the Supreme Court rules on the matter before seeking to negotiate with Democrats on it.
“Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks,” Trump said Sunday. “Many Hispanics will be coming over to the Republican side, watch!”
As pressure to end the shutdown continues to mount, some Democrats have begun urging Senate Republicans to take up House-passed legislation to reopen the government, regardless of whether the president agrees.
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that centrist Senate Republicans who sought to broker a deal last week should step forward and make an appeal to their party’s leader in the chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“It’s time for those centrists to speak up in their own Republican Senate caucus and tell Mitch McConnell, ‘The party’s over. We want this to end, there’s no excuse for the shutdown,’” Durbin said. “The Republican-controlled Senate and a handful of senators will make that decision.”
Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia, said in a statement Sunday that given Trump’s suggestion late last week that he does not immediately plan to issue an emergency declaration, “it’s time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up the House passed appropriations bills that would finally reopen government.”
“As an equal branch of government we have the authority to override the President’s veto, if that’s what he chooses to do,” Manchin said.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, also called for the president to reopen the government before debating the issue of border security.”What we don’t want to do is waste taxpayer money on a vanity project that’s ineffective, that the president said Mexico would pay for,” Kaine said on “Meet the Press.”
Some Republicans on Sunday called for Trump to continue negotiating with Democrats rather than seek to declare a national emergency.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said on CNN that he would “hate to see” Trump declare a national emergency to end to his administration’s stalemate with Democrats over a border wall.
“If we do that, it will go to court and the wall won’t get built,” Johnson said on “State of the Union.” “I want to see this wall get built, so I want to keep pressure on Democrats to actually come to the negotiating table in good faith and fund what they’ve supported in the past.”
Johnson also accused Democrats of minimizing what he called a “crisis” at a border.
“The easiest solution to the shutdown is to just give President Trump the money for the mandate he received from the American public,” he said. “As a candidate, this is what he talked about, and if there’s any mandate he can claim from his election, it was better border security and keeping this nation safe.”
As Democrats and the White House continue to negotiate, Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Delaware, questioned on “Fox News Sunday” why McConnell has not taken a more active role. While McConnell has been part of the process, he was not present outside the White House last week after talks between Trump and congressional leaders collapsed.
“Why is Mitch McConnell completely absent from these negotiations?” Coons asked.
“I feel like I signed up for the ‘Trump of the Day Club,’” he said.