Lindsey Graham Encourages Donald Trump to Use 'Emergency Powers' to Build Border Wall

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he supported the idea of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to fund and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Graham, an influential White House ally on Capitol Hill, said using "emergency powers" was likely Trump's only path to a wall considering Democrats' refusal to include wall funding in a spending bill that would end the partial government shutdown.

"Time for President @realDonaldTrump to use emergency powers to build Wall/Barrier," Graham tweeted. "I hope it works."

Graham's comment came hours after congressional negotiations on border security and re-opening the government broke down once again. Graham and other GOP leaders proposed to let congressional committees hammer out details for funding a border barrier while passing a separate bill to end the shutdown, but Trump shot down the plan, Politico reported.

Republicans are trying to decouple the shutdown, now in its 20th day, from the feud between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the border wall. But Trump told GOP leaders that the shutdown was the only way to maintain leverage in negotiations over wall funding, and that he would not sign any stopgap measures at this stage.

Democratic leaders are unanimously opposed to spending money on any new border barriers —although they have offered $1.3 billion to strengthen existing walls and fences, increase hiring at ports of entry and improve technology at the border.

"I think we're stuck. I just don't see a pathway forward. I don't see a way forward," Graham said onThursday. "I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don't see a pathway forward."

House Democrats, in the meantime, plan to vote on spending bills next week to reopen closed federal departments. Trump has signaled he would refuse to sign any spending bills that didn't include $5.7 billion for the border wall.

As for declaring a national emergency to jump-start wall construction, Trump said he was seriously considering such a move, which would likely face legal challenges.

"If this doesn't work out, probably I will do it," Trump said Thursday morning, according to The Hill. "I would almost say definitely."

Pelosi has not said how House Democrats would respond to Trump declaring a national emergency, but she predicted a bipartisan rejection of an attempt by the White House to skirt Congress's power.

"If and when the president does that you'll find out how we will react," Pelosi said. "I think he's going to have to answer to his own party on usurping that much power."