President Donald Trump said Monday that he will address the nation at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday to discuss the standoff over his proposed border wall that has shut down large chunks of the federal government.
The major broadcast networks have agreed to carry the address. Democrats, in turn, have requested equal time to respond to Trump’s speech.
Trump is expected to describe a crisis at America’s southern border, although he and his administration have been accused of using false statistics and dubious claims in their push for a wall. While Democrats have agreed to spend federal funds on border security measures, they have steadfastly refused to agree to any spending for a wall.
The White House also announced Monday that Trump will visit the U.S.-Mexico border later this week.
Trump will make the visit Thursday to “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis” at the southern border, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet.
Shortly after Sanders’ tweet, Trump announced via Twitter that “I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.” NBC News reported that Trump will deliver his speech from the Oval Office, marking his first-ever evening address from that room.
The announcements on Monday came days after Trump himself confirmed reports that he has considered using his emergency powers as a tool to fund the border wall. The president does have the ability to declare a national emergency, though the specific powers at his disposal once he does are unclear, legal scholars told NBC News.
In an off-camera briefing with reporters Monday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump has yet to decide whether he will declare a national emergency over the border wall. The White House counsel’s office is looking at the legality of such a measure, Pence added.
Pence claimed that talks between administration officials and Democrats over the weekend provided “evidence of productive discussion” between the two deeply entrenched sides.
Pence reportedly also said that Democratic staff asserted during talks over the weekend that there will be no negotiations until the government is re-opened.
A Democratic aide familiar with the meetings told CNBC that the administration “doubled down on their partisan proposal that led to the trump shutdown in the first place” in the meetings, holding firm to a $5.7 billion wall funding demand “that everyone knows can’t pass either chamber of congress.”
The aide added that “Democratic staff indicated it will be difficult to make real progress as long as the president keeps the government closed.”
Trump’s visit to the southern border is scheduled to land on the 20th day of the partial shutdown of nine federal departments. While only about a quarter of the government has been shuttered as a result of the impasse over a spending deal, the shutdown has already become the third-longest on record.
Sanders’ announcement came a day before Congress was set to return to session.
Trump has demanded that any deal to fully fund the government include more than $5 billion for a wall — a request Democratic leaders are refusing to grant. The amount of money requested would cover only about 234 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile-long, according to a letter sent to Capitol Hill by the Office of Management and Budget on Sunday.
The president has argued that a wall offers the strongest possible form of border security. “You wouldn’t even have a country” without a wall, Trump said in March during a tour of border wall prototypes in San Diego.
But some Democrats have called the wall an expensive and ineffective “vanity project” for the president, the result of a campaign gimmick that Trump used to fire up his nationalist supporters. And despite frequent negotiation sessions that have included Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, little progress appears to have been made.