Trump: Border security committee ‘wasting their time’ if not discussing a wall

Trump: Border security committee ‘wasting their time’ if not discussing a wall
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE early Wednesday warned members of a bipartisan conference committee tasked with negotiating border security policy that they would be “wasting their time” if they did not consider his demand for a wall along the border with Mexico. 

“If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!” the president tweeted Wednesday.

The warning raises the stakes for the negotiators, who meet for the first time on Wednesday. They have 16 days to reach an agreement before another partial government shutdown begins or the president decides to take other action to secure the funds for his border wall.

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The last shutdown, which reached a record-long 35 days, largely revolved around a debate over the border wall, with Trump demanding $5.7 billion in funding for his key campaign promise. The Democratic majority in the House, however, refused to include the money in a spending bill.

The president eventually signed a three-week continuing resolution to reopen the government without any funds for the wall while further negotiations take place. 

Trump has signaled he is considering declaring a national emergency to allocate the funds from the Department of Defense and enlist the military in building the wall. 

“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a — obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” he said after announcing the temporary deal to the shutdown. 

While Trump faced intense backlash from the far-right flank of his base for signing a bill that did not include border wall funds, the president could be reluctant to oversee another shutdown after polls showed the majority of the public blamed the White House and congressional Republicans for the most recent closure.