Q: What’s the likeliest way out?

A: Increasingly, some people think that could be for Trump to declare a national emergency. By law, that could give him authority to use some money in the military’s budget for construction projects for the wall.

Trump could argue he did secure money for the wall; Democrats could say they didn’t give in and they could file lawsuits to block the move. Trump could decide to finally sign bills reopening the government.

Q: Why not just declare an emergency?

A: Its legality in this instance is questionable.

Some Republicans, including Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, say strengthening border infrastructure is not the military’s job and they oppose siphoning defense dollars for that purpose. Many Republicans worry that by stretching the definition of “emergency,” Trump opens the door to a future Democratic president circumventing lawmakers.


“The idea was that the executive would have these powers on a limited basis for true emergencies,” said Andrew Boyle, who studies presidential emergency powers at the Brennan Center for Justice, affiliated with New York University.

Q: Polls show the public blames Trump more than Democrats. Will Republicans fold?

A: Some Republican lawmakers have had enough, especially in the Senate. Reflecting that, a group of Republican senators has talked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and White House officials about forging a compromise, though that seems an uphill battle.

Ultimately McConnell will decide the party’s path. It will take more than a few Republican defections for McConnell to abandon Trump.

Q: What about Democrats?

A: They’ve shown no outward signs of divisions. If anything, Trump’s recent actions — leaving Wednesday’s negotiating session, seeming to blame Democrats for the recent deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. custody — have united them more.


“Democrats’ reaction ranges from angry to enraged,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.

Q: Will a deal be made?

A: That seems increasingly unlikely. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and other Republicans have explored a compromise that might include border security money plus helping hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children stay in this country. But Vice President Mike Pence and Graham reported no progress after a meeting Thursday.

Democrats know a deal with Trump could alienate liberals, and are loath to show Trump that they would fold during future confrontations.

They also don’t trust him. Pelosi said Trump has moved the goalposts so often that “pretty soon these goalposts won’t even be in the stadium.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.