Washington (AP) - The US is heading for the longest shutdown in its history: Should the stalemate in parts of the US government go beyond Friday, the previous record would be broken.
US President Donald Trump threatened again Thursday - and more vigorously than before - to declare a "national emergency" should the Democrats not agree to finance a wall on the border with Mexico. He wanted to negotiate with the Democrats, he assured. But if that does not succeed, he will probably go the way of a state of emergency, "I would almost say definitely".
The dispute over the boundary wall demanded by Trump is the reason for the "Shutdown", which paralyzes parts of the US government since just before Christmas. Because a budget law was not adopted in time, a budget freeze for several ministries has been in effect since 22 December. For this reason, around 800,000 employees from the government and federal authorities must work for the time being without pay or on compulsory leave. Should the condition last beyond Friday - which it currently looks like - the record would have been broken: the longest "shutdown" in US history had a duration of 21 days at the turn of the year 1995/1996.
The dispute has gone: Trump wants to agree to a new budget law, if it provides expenditure of $ 5.7 billion for the construction of a border wall. The Democrats - whose votes Trump relies on Congress - refuse to finance a wall but vehemently.
Trump had recently threatened to declare a "National Emergency" several times should the Democrats stay with their line. The move would give him far-reaching powers and he could try to build the wall without Congress approval. A nationwide state of emergency in which laws or even fundamental rights are repealed does not mean that.
The president could refer to a law that would allow the Minister of Defense in a state of emergency to direct the construction of "military construction projects". Another passage allows the Pentagon chief to stop civilian army projects and instead engage soldiers in other construction projects "essential to national defense".
In other words, Trump could try to redirect money from the defense budget for the construction of the Wall. However, the legal issues surrounding such a step are complicated.
"I have the full right to declare a national emergency," said Trump again on Thursday. There is more than one mechanism in the case, he emphasized, but without giving details. Should he take this step, "then we have a large amount of resources". Again, he did not give details.
Trump warned that Honduras was already the next group of migrants who wanted to come to the United States. "It's bigger than anything we've seen so far." To stop these people, a wall is indispensable. Several groups of Central American migrants have made their way to the US in recent weeks.
The president wanted to visit the southern border of the USA on Thursday evening German time to talk to emergency services there. At present it is not clear how the dispute over the wall could be solved. So far Trump has not offered the Democrats a deal to win their approval, and the Democrats are trying hard.
Trump and the Democrats' latest summit came to a screeching halt on Wednesday. Trump had abruptly abandoned the conversation in the White House and later described it as a "total waste of time" on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, he wrote that he had asked the Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, if she would agree to finance a wall if he ended the government's stalemate. She said no, whereupon he ended the meeting.
Senate Democrat frontman Chuck Schumer complained about the departure. "We had another tantrum because he did not get what he wanted, and then he left the meeting."
Trump accused the Democrats on Thursday of spreading lies about the meeting. He had not scolded, raised his voice or anything like that. "I do not have tantrums." He left the room calmly. On Twitter, he ridiculed Schumer as a «howling Chuck».
Trump on Twitter