Donald Trump is planning to make a statement on primetime TV on Tuesday night making the case for his planned border wall with Mexico.
“I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” the US president tweeted, saying the broadcast would come at 9pm.
Trump’s speech will be carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and NBC.
Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called on the networks to give Democrats a chance to respond. “Now that the television networks have decided to air the president’s address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” they wrote in a joint statement released Monday night.
Trump will also visit the southern border this week, as the White House and Democrats in Congress remain split – and the federal government remains partially shut down – over how to address his demand for a border wall.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, announced that Trump would be traveling to the southern border in a tweet.
The announcement of Trump’s border visit followed a weekend of fruitless meetings between the two sides on the shutdown, which entered its 17th day.
The president, unmoved in his demand for $5.6bn to fund a wall, tweeted that a Sunday meeting between a White House delegation and representatives of Democrats in Congress had been “productive”.
But Democrats panned his idea of a concession, floated on the Sunday talk shows: to build the wall with steel, rather than concrete. The White House also offered $800m to address “urgent humanitarian needs” at the border.
All the while, about 800,000 federal workers remained without pay, either at home or on the job, and key government services faced increasing strain and closure. The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told NBC that if the shutdown continues into Tuesday, “then payroll will not go out as originally planned on Friday night”.
Speaking to reporters as he left the White House for Camp David on Sunday, Trump claimed many workers without pay “agree 100% with what I’m doing”. Returning, he said: “They will make an adjustment because they want to see the border taken care of.”
The president also floated the idea of declaring a national emergency, thereby circumventing Congress to build his wall. It may have merely been a tactic designed to push Democrats to do a deal but Trump’s opponents said in any case such a move would be, in the words of congressman Adam Schiff, a “non-starter”, subject to fierce opposition and legal challenges.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted three times complaining about the media, then quoted the new Democratic chairman of the House armed services committee, Adam Smith, as saying: “Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times.”
Congressman Adam Smith, the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, just stated, “Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times.” No doubt, but let’s get our deal done in Congress!
Trump omitted the rest of Smith’s comment, which came from a Sunday interview on ABC. Smith continued to say: “But primarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying: ‘Where is the emergency?’”
The new House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will this week start passing bills to reopen government agencies, starting with the treasury, in an attempt to ensure people receive tax refunds threatened by the government closure.
The moves are meant to pressure Senate Republicans currently sitting out the fight, as the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, seeks to avoid political damage. Among Senate GOP moderates, Susan Collins of Maine expressed support for the Democratic move on Sunday.
“Let’s get those reopened while the negotiations continue,” she told NBC.
On Monday, Senate Democrats indicated they would attempt to block the chamber from voting on any legislation until McConnell moves to allow votes on the House-passed funding bills. The gambit would not end the shutdown but it would, if successful, force Trump to veto government funding legislation if he wants the showdown over the border wall to continue.
Talks remain at an impasse, following a breakdown in communication. A Democratic official said a Sunday meeting with the White House began 45 minutes late after Trump administration officials failed to produce information requested by Democrats and detailing the president’s budget justification for the border wall.
“No progress was made today,” the Democratic aide said, while adding no additional meetings had been scheduled.
Of the 800,000 workers directly affected, about 420,000 are estimated to be working without pay because they are considered essential. These workers typically receive back pay after a shutdown ends, but it is not guaranteed.
Some of those workers, such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screeners, have been calling out sick at higher rates than usual. Union representatives said this is because workers are being forced to take temporary jobs or cannot afford childcare.
Federal workers have warned the shutdown will have long-term effects.
Hundreds of immigrants’ court hearings have been cancelled, exacerbating an existing backlog of more than a million cases. And hundreds of government scientists say they will miss crucial opportunities to exchange research and ideas because the shutdown is stopping them from attending major scientific conferences about technology, space exploration and climate change.
Outside the White House on Sunday, Trump said he could “relate” to the federal employees who aren’t being paid during the shutdown.