Networks to air Pelosi, Schumer rebuttal to Trump

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No. 2 House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Tuesday that he believes Trump does not have legal authority to declare a national emergency and unilaterally build a Southwest border wall.

President Donald Trump will make his case to Americans on Tuesday that a "crisis" at the US border with Mexico requires a wall in a prime-time address aimed at building support for a campaign promise that has sparked an 18-day government shutdown.

ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox broadcasting, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and MSNBC will air the Democratic rebuttal to the address after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested an equivalent slot to the president's, reported The Associated Press.

Past presidents have supported various measures to curb illegal immigration and secure the U.S. -Mexico border, including with strong fencing in some areas, though none of those policies resembled Trump's proposal for a multibillion-dollar steel wall covering most of the border.

Democrats in Congress say a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral.

Many Trump critics posted messages on social media urging the networks not to air an address that could be filled with falsehoods.

Since the weekend meetings that the vice president has called "productive" even as he said no progress was made toward actually reaching an agreement, White House and congressional negotiators have not again sat down.

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Trump administration officials who briefed a group of reporters Monday came with a new claim: that there is an escalating "humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border", as Pence put it. They also hope to win a critical political victory in the showdown over Trump's demand to build a wall on the US border with Mexico. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush told Politico they hadn't spoken with the White House.

In the meantime, speculation continues to swirl about whether President Trump will declare a national emergency to end the shutdown and use the military to build the wall/barrier.

However, all four living former US presidents - Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Carter - have now denied his claim. On Monday, the Carter Center, his nonprofit at Emory University, released a statement from him saying he had never spoken to Trump about the issue - nor would he have encouraged him on the wall if he had.

Large chunks of the federal government shut down on December 22 over Trump's demand that a bill to keep the federal government operational include more than $5 billion to pay for what he has now said would be a steel structure to protect the border.

Trump has scheduled a trip to the border Thursday to highlight his demands for a wall.

"We don't think that's the American way; we don't think that's the constitutional way".

Obama's representatives didn't respond to CNN last week when asked if he was the former president who had spoken with Trump and praised the wall. Most federal workers affected by the shutdown were due to receive paychecks on Friday; without an agreement, they won't be paid.