Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Thursday called on President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, citing Democrat leaders' unwillingness to comprise on border security legislation which would reopen the federal government.
"Speaker Pelosi's refusal to negotiate on funding for a border wall/barrier - even if the government were to be reopened - virtually ends the congressional path to funding a border wall/barrier," Graham's statement reads. "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works."
Graham's support for a declaration comes after expressing caution about the move earlier this week, saying it was not his "preferred route" and should be a "last resort." Speaking with reporters earlier Thursday, the South Carolina Republican said he doesn't see lawmakers will find a solution to end the shutdown, which has entered its 20th day. "I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don't see a pathway forward. Somebody's got to like, get some energy to fix this," he said.
In a Fox News interview last week, Graham predicted it will likely be "the end of [the Trump] presidency" if the president reopens the government without securing border wall funding.
"This is a battle, to me, worth having, and I know it's inconvenient," Graham told host Sean Hannity. "By the way, I support all those furloughed employees. I don't want them caught in a political crossfire. They deserve their back-pay. It's through no fault of there own that they're not viewed as essential services. But, does the president have other options for the wall?"
"He's not going to sign a bill that doesn't have money for the wall," he continued. "If he gives in now, that's the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That's the probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people. He's going to secure our border."
Meanwhile, President Trump, departing to the border town of McAllen, Texas, Thursday reiterated his willingness to declare a national emergency to build a southern border wall. Asked by reporters about a declaration, the president said as he left the White House, "I'm not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to I will."
"So 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 added.
It's not clear what a compromise might entail. President Trump affirms he won't reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable walling that President Trump envisions. He is asking $5.7 billion for wall construction.
President Trump's comments came a day after he walked out of a negotiating meeting with congressional leaders - "I said bye-bye," he tweeted afterward.
The White House meeting in the Situation Room ended after just 14 minutes. Democrats said they asked Trump to reopen the government but he told them if he did they wouldn't give him money for the wall. Republicans said Trump posed a direct question to Pelosi: If he opened the government, would she fund the wall? She said no.