Northwest Georgia’s congressman, Rep. Tom Graves, lashed out at Democratic negotiators as President Donald Trump warned he may declare a national emergency during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Graves is a member of the bipartisan Conference Committee on Border Security — charged with crafting a spending deal to avert a government shutdown by Feb. 15. to secure the southern border. The Ranger Republican discussed his concerns late last week during appearances on several cable TV shows.
“We have been really clear about our objective,“ Graves told Jim Sciutto Thursday on CNN Newsroom.
“It is about providing the necessary resources to secure our homeland and we know it’s a very comprehensive...it’s a very complex discussion. It’s not binary. It’s not black or white. It is actually very dynamic,“ he continued. “But you can only begin these negotiations if it’s good faith. (Democrats) are not operating in good faith at this point, if they’re hiding their proposal not only from us but their own membership.“
Trump said Friday said there is a “a good chance“ he will make an emergency declaration during the SOTU to unlock Defense Department dollars for a wall.
“We will be looking at a national emergency because I don’t think anything is going to happen,“ Trump said of the House-Senate panel’s negotiations.
Asked about promised court challenges by Democrats and pro-immigration groups, the president seemed newly defiant.
“Well, we have very strong legal standing,“ Trump told reporters hours before he was slated to make his first visit to his South Florida resort since Thanksgiving weekend.
“You’ll hear the State of the Union and let’s see what happens,“ he said in response to questions during an event about human trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Graves said he’s still hopeful the conferees can put together a proposal that addresses the “humanitarian and a security crisis at our border.” But he said Democrats must be more transparent.
“I think they are in a definitions game,“ he said in a Thursday interview with Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends. “They’re trying to find consensus on the definition of what we all know to be true and needed — and that is a wall, or a fence, or an obstruction at our border that prevents any criminal activity from entering into our country and securing our country as well.“
Trump has claimed that Democrats fear engaging him about his proposed border wall because they would lose a debate about whether, in his words, “walls work.”
But top Democrats made clear they are up for such a debate.
“It’s all about two things: Cost-benefit analysis — what’s the best way and what do you get for your dollar to protect the border? — and it’s also about ... the opportunity cost of the money,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said. “If the money can be used better for technology, then let’s see what’s the best (solution). And by the way, when some of these fences were built, the technology was not what it is today.”
Staff writer Diane Wagner contributed to this report.