U.S. President Donald Trump is still considering a possible declaration of a national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, the White House said on Wednesday.
As the partial shutdown of the federal government over wall funding entered its 19th day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said a national emergency declaration is “certainly still an option, something that’s on the table.”
Still, Sanders said the White House hoped the administration and U.S. lawmakers could find a solution to the wall funding.
“We’re hopeful, again, that they’ll get serious about doing their jobs and work with us,” Sanders said. “We’ve shown our willingness to work with them.”
Sanders’ comments come after Trump sought to build public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for the border wall in a televised address on Tuesday night.
Trump stopped short of an emergency declaration in his televised speech but repeated his assertion that illegal immigrants and drugs flowing across the southern border are a serious threat to American safety.
Democrats and other opponents of a border wall have threatened to take legal action if Trump issued the order.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump could circumvent Congress’ authority under the U.S. Constitution to appropriate funds and redirect money at his direction. The law allows Congress to override such a decision but would require approval by both the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democrats have a majority, and the Republican-dominated Senate.
Building the wall and having Mexico pay for it was a primary theme of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Democrats have denounced a wall as immoral, inefficient and costly, but said they support additional funding for other border security measures including increased border agents and technology.
Before the partial shutdown began on Dec. 22, Trump said he would be “proud” to close the government over the issue of border security and would not blame Democrats. He has since said they are responsible.
Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott