President Donald Trump said he was willing to declare a state of emergency on Friday, in order to build a wall on the Southern border.
“Absolutely, we can call a national emergency,” Trump said when asked about the idea by a reporter. “I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it.”
The president spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden on Friday at the White House after meeting with Congressional leaders for more than two hours to try to make a deal.
The president is allowed by law to issue a declaration of emergency to quickly move federal funds to a specific area based on his discretion. The state of emergency declaration is frequently used ahead of a hurricane or other national disaster.
“We could call a national emergency and build it very quickly, and it’s another way of doing it,” Trump said.
Trump said he preferred to make a funding deal with Democrats.
“If we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving it a shot,” he said.
He denied that the suggestion was a threat to Democrats.
“I’d never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do it,” he said. “It’s called a national emergency.”
Trump confirmed that he said that he was willing to keep the government shut down for up to a year, if necessary, if Democrats refused to make a deal on border security funding.
“I did say that, absolutely I said that,” he said. “I don’t think it will, but I am prepared, and I think that I can speak for Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate. They feel very strongly about having a safe country.”
Trump said that he was not pleased that the government remained shut down as Democrats refused to compromise with his demands, but he would continue to stand strong on the issue.
“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing,” he said when asked if he was “proud” of the shutdown.
Trump said that he was adamant about getting funding for the border.
“This should have been done by all of the presidents preceding me,” Trump said. “We’re not playing games; we have to do it.”
He also signaled interest in building a “steel wall” that you could see through, declaring that it was probably stronger than a concrete wall.
Trump reminded reporters that he was present at the White House during Christmas and New Years looking to make a deal with Democrats, and he received zero response.
The president said he remained “very firm” on the $5.2 billion number requested for border security.
“We have to get a structure built,” he said, adding that the federal government had already replaced existing fencing on the border.
The partial government shutdown is now in its 14th day.