"I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party," the president said Thursday morning.
The Democratic and Republican leadership got nowhere in Wednesday's meeting on border wall funding and the ongoing government shutdown. Trump refused further discussions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) after the duo told him they still would not approve $5 billion for the border wall in their Situation Room meeting. "Bye-bye," Trump recalled telling the Democrats in a tweet.
"He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money," Pelosi said of federal workers who will miss paychecks during the shutdown, referring to Trump's silver-spoon upbringing. "But they can't."
The partial shutdown entered day 20 Thursday. On Friday, a substantial share of the federal workforce will not receive paychecks as a result of the shutdown — which, on a technical level, has resulted from Congress not passing an appropriations bill the White House is willing to sign.
In budgetary terms, the $5.7 billion sum Trump seeks is a miniscule fraction of the $1.4 trillion that's been allocated to the Department of Defense over the past two years.
In the first three months of the 2019 fiscal year, which started October 1, 2018, federal spending exceeded revenue by $317 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.
If Democrats refuse to make a deal, Trump has said he might declare a national emergency to invoke special executive privileges, allowing him to fund and build the wall without Congress' approval.
While such a political stroke might seem uniquely Trumpian, American presidents do it all the time. There are 31 active national emergencies currently in effect, some of which date back to 1979, according to Time magazine.
The National Emergencies Act allows for presidents to declare national emergencies as long as they appeal to laws that are already on the books and tell Congress which powers are being used. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there are 136 laws on the books with special powers Trump could validly access after declaring an emergency.
Under the National Emergencies Act, ongoing emergencies include blocking Iranian government property (1979); proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (1994); prohibiting transactions with terrorists who disrupt the Middle East peace process (1995); prohibiting certain transactions concerning Iranian petroleum (1995); prohibition of transactions with significant narcotics traffickers (1995); and more.
Trump's declared three new national emergencies so far during his presidency: blocking the property of persons involved in serious human rights abuse or corruption; blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Nicaragua; and imposing certain sanctions in the event of foreign interference in a United States election.
According to the Federal Register, Trump's given his signature to executive orders continuing the national emergencies with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Iran, Burundi, North Korea, the Western Balkans, the stabilization of Iraq, Yemen, the Central African Republic, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Lebanon, Libya and narcotics traffickers in Colombia.
Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush declared 13 and 12 such emergencies, respectively, according to a CNN report citing the Congressional Research Service and the Federal Register. If Democrats wait too long and Trump declares a national emergency, the wall could get some modest funding through executive sources, and House Democrats would lose the "see-through steel border" as a bargaining chip.
"It could be that by putting together a lot of different sources of emergency authority, the president could tap a lot of different funds and at least start," Princeton University professor Kim Lane Scheppele told Vox.
According to the Washington Post, 93 freshmen legislators are voluntarily refusing or donating their $174,000 salaries until the government reopens. Staff members for top House leaders including Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) did not reply to inquiries concerning plans to forego their pay, the Post noted.