Trump plans border visit as shutdown lurches into third week

WASHINGTON — With no breakthrough in sight to end the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump is planning to visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday to highlight his demands for a border wall.

Newly empowered House Democrats plan to step up pressure on Trump and Republican lawmakers to reopen the government.

Trump maintains that more than $5 billion for a wall is necessary to secure the border.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Monday that Trump will use the visit to “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”

Trump will deliver a prime-time address on Tuesday night on what he calls a border “crisis.” The speech will be given at 7 p.m. MST.

As the shutdown lurched into a third week, many Republicans watched nervously from the sidelines as hundreds of thousands of federal workers went without pay and government disruptions hit the lives of ordinary Americans.

Trump has offered to build the barrier with steel rather than concrete, billing that as a concession to Democrats’ objections to a solid wall.

They “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” he has said.

But the Democrats have made clear they see a wall as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed-upon levels.

White House officials affirmed Trump’s funding request in a letter to Capitol Hill after a meeting Sunday with senior congressional aides led by Vice President Mike Pence at the White House complex yielded little progress.

The letter from Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought sought funding for a “steel barrier on the Southwest border.”

The White House said the letter, as well as details provided during the meeting, sought to answer Democrats’ questions about the funding request.

Democrats, though, said the administration still failed to provide a full budget of how it would spend the billions requested for the wall from Congress. Trump campaigned on a promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused.

The administration letter includes a request for $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs,” a reflection of the growing anxiety over migrants traveling to the border — which the White House said Democrats raised in the meetings.

And it repeats some existing funding requests for detention beds and security officers, which have already been panned by Congress and would likely find resistance among House Democrats.

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