U.S.

Trump Wants to Make Himself ‘a King and a Tyrant’ by Usurping Congress Over Wall Shutdown, Senior House Democrat Says

A senior House Democrat accused President Donald Trump of wanting to “usurp” Congress by using his national emergency powers to force the construction of a southern border wall.

The federal government is currently partially shut down because Trump has demanded $5.6 billion to fund his wall but House Democrats, who command a strong majority, have refused him the money.

On Friday and again on Sunday, Trump told reporters that the White House was looking at using national emergency powers to fund and build the wall. “We can do it,” Trump said.

Read more: Trump border wall GoFundMe hits more than Parkland and March for Our Lives campaigns combined

Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have both echoed the president in calling the border issue a “humanitarian and national security crisis.”

“We will oppose any effort by the president to make himself a king and a tyrant,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said on Monday while visiting the border, The Washington Post reported.

“The president has no authority to usurp Congress’s power of the purse.”

House Democrats have refused to back down because they view the wall as an expensive, ineffective response to a security threat that is minimal.

Though they are willing to allocate funds for border security, they will not approve funding specifically for the wall, which was a flagship policy of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

But Trump argues the wall is essential for border security.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told NBC’s Today show that Trump will get “nothing for the wall.”

“We're talking about border security. We can go through this back-and-forth. How many more times can we say no? No—nothing for the wall,” Pelosi said.

At a meeting before the shutdown between Trump, Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York’s Democrat senator, the president took ownership of any federal government closure should no budget deal be reached. "I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck," Trump said, adding: "I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not gonna blame you for it."

But now he blames Democrats for the shutdown, which has left 800,000 federal employees unpaid since it began on December 22, more than two weeks ago.

Read more: Watch—CNN's Don Lemon shows "priceless" 2013 clip of Trump calling for Obama to be fired over government shutdown

Trump, who has said the shutdown will “take as long as it takes,” will address the country on the border wall issue in a broadcast on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET. All the major networks will carry the president’s address live, possibly followed by a televised by rebuttal by the Democrats.

“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," Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement on Monday night.

donald trump border wall President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, on January 4. Trump hosted both Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House for the second meeting in three days, as the government shutdown heads into its third week. He will address the nation on the border wall on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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