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Trump 'prepared' to force US government shutdown for over a year

Saul Loeb, AFP | US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House following a meeting with Congressional leaders on the government shutdown, January 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he was prepared to keep the US government closed for a year or more on the contentious issue of the border wall in Mexico. Trump also said he might call a national emergency to get the wall built.

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Trump confirmed he said as much in a meeting earlier Friday with top Democrats that failed to produce a deal on ending the two-week shutdown.

“Absolutely I said that,” Trump said, adding. “I don’t think it will. But I am prepared.”

“It’s very important that we have great border security,” he continued. “It will be over with sooner than people think. I will do whatever we have to do.”

Trump insisted that federal workers affected by the US government shutdown support him, despite the fact that many were forced either to work without salaries or go on unpaid leave.

“Many of those people, most of those people, that really have not been and will not be getting their money in at this moment, those people in many cases are the biggest fan of what we’re doing,” he added.

A quick end to the stalemate does not appear to be in sight as Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, seem in no mood to make concessions to the US president.

'Wall is immoral'

Incoming House leader Nancy Pelosi has described the wall as an “immorality” while once again flatly rejecting Trump’s insistence on $5.6 billion for the southern barrier.

The impasse has left more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay since December 22 -- as both Democrats and Republicans have attempted to pin the blame on the other side.

Trump also said on Friday he could use emergency powers to build the wall without approval from Congress. He says he will not support a bill to fully fund the government until he secures the money for the wall.

Asked whether he had considered declaring a national emergency to build the wall, Trump said: “Yes, I have. ... We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it ... But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”

The US Constitution assigns Congress the power over funding the federal government, so Trump would likely face legal challenges if he tried to bypass Congress on financing the wall.

He dismissed those concerns in a news briefing at the White House.

“We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely,” he said. Asked if declaring a national emergency was a threat hanging over Democrats, Trump said, “I’d never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do that, yes.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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