House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will deliver the Democrats’ response to President Donald Trump on Tuesday night following his Oval Office address to the nation about funding his proposed border wall.
Pelosi and Schumer, who have led Democratic negotiations with the Trump administration amid a partial government shutdown that has now become the second-longest on record, will give their response from the speaker’s balcony in the U.S. Capitol building after Trump’s televised 9 p.m. ET address has finished.
“If his past statements are any indication,” then Trump’s speech “will be full of malice and misinformation,” the Democratic leaders said Monday night in a joint statement calling for Democrats to be given equal airtime.
As the shutdown of roughly a quarter of the government stretched into its 18th day, both sides remained staunchly opposed to each others’ proposals for a deal to fund nine federal departments.
Trump is demanding that any deal include more than $5 billion for construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats are refusing to allocate any money for a border wall.
The Oval Office address, which will be aired by multiple broadcast networks, marks the president’s first-ever evening address from that room.
Trump’s prime-time address comes two days before the president’s planned visit to the Southern border. Trump will “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis” at the border, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Last week, Trump confirmed that he has considered using his emergency powers, such as declaring a national emergency, as a tool to circumvent asking Congress for funds to build his long-promised wall.
Vice President Mike Pence, in an NBC News interview that aired Tuesday morning, said the president has made “no decision” yet about whether he will declare an emergency.
The significance of an Oval Office address, which has historically been a way for presidents to deliver seismic announcements and policy developments, has led some to believe Trump may declare a national emergency during the televised speech.
Doing so would almost certainly provoke a court challenge, legal scholars told NBC News.
Trump has described the current immigration circumstances on the Mexican border as a “Humanitarian and National Security crisis” and has warned about the threat of terrorists coming into the U.S. through Mexico. Sanders claimed Friday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had stopped thousands of known or suspected terrorists from crossing the border.
But NBC News reported Monday that CBP had encountered only six immigrants in the first half of that fiscal year whose names were on a government list of known or suspected terrorists.
Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway later said Sanders had made an “unfortunate misstatement.”