President Donald Trump on Friday called the situation at the U.S. southern border "an invasion," but he indicated that he would not be declaring a national emergency that could give him the legal authority to begin building his long-promised wall.
Trump, according to the Associated Press, said he was not looking to declare an emergency to build a wall "right now," contending that "this is something Congress can do."
Democrats have refused to vote on a budget that would include the president's request for more than $5 billion to begin construction of a permanent barrier along the Mexican border. Trump has refused to sign any government budget unless it has the funds. The standoff has led to a partial government shutdown that has now lasted 21 days, tying the record for the longest in U.S. history.
The lapse in funding has hit roughly a quarter of the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. An estimated 800,000 federal workers are now going without paychecks.
'A win for everybody'
Trump had said Thursday, during a visit to the border town of McAllen, Texas, that he might declare a national emergency.
"We're either going to have a win, make a compromise, because I think a compromise is a win for everybody, or I will declare a national emergency," he said.
A declaration would allow Trump to spend the money without congressional approval. It would likely bring an immediate court challenge from Democrats who say there is no emergency at the border and that the president would be overstepping his constitutional authority.
Trump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the Democrats, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. He says they are oblivious to national security threats and will not compromise.
Pelosi and Schumer say the president is obsessed with the wall and has manufactured a crisis, in part, to distract the country from his other problems.
They have proposed reopening the government and negotiating the wall issue separately.