In a White House interview with The New York Times onThursday, Trump again hinted he might declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build the wall without its approval. However he would nearly certainly face immediate court challenges, with Democrats arguing that there is no real emergency on the frontier.
Trump teased the possibility of making a definitive statement on the topic during his State of the Union address, telling reporters to watch the Tuesday speech closely. She knows that you need a barrier, she knows we need border security.
Critics have noted that if he did declare a national emergency for that objective that it would nearly certainly be met with legal challenges.
That would take place under provisions of the National Emergencies Act, which provides that a presidential declaration can be terminated if lawmakers pass a joint resolution to do so. Such a step likely would prompt a court challenge from Democrats.
But on Friday The Washington Post, citing sources close to the matter, had reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned Trump against declaring an emergency. Republicans in the Senate need at least seven Democrat votes to sign a spending measure.
Trump insisted that he is building the wall and will continue building it, as this is the only way to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. The super committee has a February 15 deadline to craft a deal on border security satisfactory to both political parties and to Trump, who agreed last week to end a historic 35-day partial government shutdown and allow Congress to try again to find a way forward. "It's like in a business, we have money on hand, and we're building, I would say we have a hundred and fifteen miles of wall, maybe a little bit more than that very shortly".
The president repeated his assertion that without a border wall the U.S. is subject to vast lawlessness, including "human trafficking ... drugs and gangs and criminals pouring in".
"We're going to have a strong border".
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Trump is pitted between the political middle and his own base, which has embraced his demand for a border wall.
Trump also argued one of the strengths of his new wall is how physically attractive it is.
Negotiations within the super committee began on Monday.
The Oval Office discussion over a national emergency declaration illustrated the dynamic that has developed between Trump and McConnell. "And anybody that says you don't, they're just playing games".
But even as they have kept in touch privately, in public their strategies have diverged.
"I think some of their goals are aligned but the methods to get there might be different", said Sen.
"I think there's a good chance that we'll have to do that".