Trump to deliver prime-time address, travel to Southern border amid shutdown standoff
President Trump announced that he will address the nation on Tuesday night before traveling later in the week to the U.S.-Mexico border, as he seeks to highlight border security and presses Democrats for wall funding amid the protracted standoff that triggered a partial government shutdown now stretching into its 17th day.
“I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern,” Trump tweeted on Monday.
His travel plans to the border were revealed earlier in a tweet by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
“President @realDonaldTrump will travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis. More details will be announced soon,” Sanders tweeted.
A law enforcement source told Fox News that Trump plans to visit the border by McAllen, Texas.
The president’s visit will come on what is likely to be the 20th day of the partial government shutdown. Numerous government agencies first ran out of funding on Dec. 22, as Democrats vowed to block Trump’s requested $5.7 billion to build the border wall and Trump insisted on the money.
Last week, House Democrats passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees construction of the wall, at current levels through Feb. 8, with $1.3 billion for border security—a figure far less than Trump requested. Senate Republicans so far have not taken it up.
The president told congressional Democratic leaders during a meeting on Friday that he was willing to keep the government shutdown for as long as necessary — possibly months or even years — in order to get the funding he wants.
After a weekend filled with meetings about the shutdown, the president moved to call for a steel wall, rather than a concrete barrier, at the southern border. Trump framed the pitch for a steel wall as a concession to Democrats to move negotiations along.
“They don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” Trump told reporters over the weekend.
But Democrats do not appear moved by the president’s message.
A Democratic source told Fox News that a meeting led by Vice President Pence over the weekend with bipartisan congressional staff at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House accomplished little, and started nearly an hour late because Trump administration officials were unprepared with the information requested by Democrats.
Trump, afterward, called the meeting “productive,” though he was not in attendance.
During the meeting on Sunday, Pence, along with Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, discussed a variety of border security measures with congressional officials from both parties.
“Democrats were given what they asked for, which was a detailed, breakdown list of the administration’s proposals for border security that include the wall and other border protection measures,” a House GOP leadership aide told Fox News. “Democrats were given the opportunity to ask questions of Secretary Nielsen and hear DHS’ justification for the specific funding requests. Their justifications made it abundantly clear why it is necessary to have this level of funding to effectively secure our border.”
But a Democratic official familiar with the meeting told Fox News that “no progress was made” at the meeting, adding that Democrats asked for a full budget “justification” for the administrations $5.7 billion wall request, but that Democratic staff “did not receive a full budget justification.”
“Three and a half months into a new fiscal year, the Administration did not present any commensurate cuts in the DHS budget to accommodate the increases they are seeking,” the Democratic source told Fox News. “Given the failure of the White House to present a full budget justification…the Democratic staff pleaded again for the White House to change course and re-open the government by supporting the [bill to fund DHS through Feb. 8] and the six-bill package that the House has passed and has received broad bipartisan support in the Senate. The Vice President said the President would not do that.”
Also on Sunday, Democrats published the full text of the several spending bills to reopen the government, but the White House and Senate Republicans have said the bills have no chance of becoming law because they do not include funding for a wall of any kind.
Meanwhile, a source said no further meetings to discuss the shutdown were planned in the foreseeable future.
Trump also suggested he would rather wait until the Supreme Court rules on the legality of his administration’s pullback of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before negotiating with Democrats on the issue as part of the talks to end the shutdown.
Several federal judges have held that the Trump administration’s reasons for terminating DACA were legally insufficient under a federal administrative law statute, which requires adequate notice and justification before the government terminates a right it has previously granted.
Fox News’ John Roberts, Gregg Re, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.