President Trump on Friday threw cold water on the idea of immediately declaring a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, reversing days of signals that he might soon declare the emergency amid a protracted standoff with Democrats over a partial shutdown of the federal government.
“What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency,” he said Friday afternoon, surrounded by law enforcement officials at a White House roundtable. “I’m not going to do it so fast.”
The president has defiantly said for days he might declare a national emergency to expedite construction of the wall — and his administration has asked agencies to begin preparations.
But he has gotten sharp pushback, even from Republicans, at the notion of declaring such an emergency. His lawyers have privately warned that he could be on shaky footing with such a move, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The House broke for the weekend Friday, all but ensuring that the partial government shutdown would become the longest in U.S. history.
The Democratic-led House held its final votes of the week Friday, including on a measure to ensure that federal workers who are furloughed receive back pay once the government reopens. The bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday, now goes to Trump for his signature.
The House also passed another bill that would reopen more shuttered government departments — but it was already declared dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate because of a veto threat from Trump.
About 800,000 workers missed a paycheck Friday as the impasse between Trump and Democrats stretched into its 21st day. Without a dramatic turn of events, the shutdown would become one for the record books at midnight.
As of early Friday afternoon, there were no signs of serious negotiations underway, and leaders of both chambers announced no plans to meet before Monday.
Meanwhile, speculation continued to swirl around whether Trump would declare a national emergency and direct the military to build the wall without congressional consent.