Washington, DC - Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says it's time for President Donald Trump to invoke emergency powers to build the border wall with Mexico.
The South Carolina senator said Thursday his efforts to broker an immigration compromise that could help end the partial government shutdown are "stuck."
Graham says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's refusal to negotiate the wall "virtually ends" Congress' ability to pass a bill to fund it. Now, he says, "it is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction" of a border wall or barrier.
“I hope it works," he added.
Trump said Thursday he might declare the border situation a national emergency, which could free up funding from military projects.
The border wall with Mexico was his signature campaign issue. He said Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused.
Earlier in the day, the president toured a section of the U.S.-Mexico border.
A law enforcement officer told Trump during his tour that a greater percentage of apprehensions in recent weeks have involved people from places other than Mexico and Central America. He cited people from Pakistan, China and India as specific examples.
Trump tells reporters, "So they apprehended people from the Middle East and they do it all the time."
Trump says: "Whether it's steel or concrete, you don't care. We need a barrier."
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House has passed two more bills to fund government agencies as a part of a strategy to end the partial government shutdown.
One bill would fund the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments, while the other would provide money for the Agriculture Department.
The transportation-housing bill was approved, 244-180. Twelve Republicans voted with Democrats to approve the bill.
The agriculture bill was approved 243-183, with 10 Republicans in support.
The House voted Wednesday on bills to reopen the Treasury Department and IRS.
Democrats say the bills approved Thursday would ensure that families will lose not food stamp benefits and that those living in federally supported housing are not evicted.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won't bring up the Democratic bills in the Republican-controlled Senate.