And it's an argument Trump and his allies have struggled to make since before they took office, but now they'll try to use his bully pulpit to move public opinion. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll last month found Americans — By a 21-point margin of 57 percent to 36 percent — wanted Trump to compromise on the wall instead of shutting down the government. Over two-thirds also said a wall shouldn't be an immediate priority for Congress.
Weekend talks to resolve the shutdown stalemate between Vice President Pence and congressional staffers produced no breakthrough. Although Trump characterized the talks as "productive," Democrats said there was no progress.
Pence told reporters at the White House on Monday that Trump was "considering" declaring a national emergency — the option is being "looked at and examined" — which could allow him to begin construction of the wall.
Over the weekend, the White House did formalize its request for $5.7 billion to fund Trump's border wall — a number Pence said Monday Trump will not retreat from. In a letter to lawmakers, the administration said that sum would pay for 234 miles of new barrier — at a cost of roughly $24 million per mile. The material used would now be steel, not concrete.
The administration is also seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for additional Border Patrol agents, immigration judges, detention beds, drug detection equipment and to address what it calls "urgent humanitarian needs."
Pence argued that this approach represented a compromise on the White House's part, to go beyond just a wall and fund things Democrats want too. And he pushed back on criticism this was just a way to appeal to Trump's "base."
"This isn't about [the] base. This is about the American people. This is about human trafficking, this is about a humanitarian crisis, this is about the flow of illegal drugs, illegal immigrants and the president's determination to address that issue with action and with resources," Pence said.
Congressional Democrats are resisting the president's demand for wall funding. In an exercise in political messaging, the House is expected to begin voting Tuesday on a series of bills to reopen shuttered government agencies without additional money for a border barrier. Although a handful of Republican senators from swing states have expressed a desire to end the partial shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is adamant that the Senate will not vote on funding bills that don't have support from the president.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats say they will block even bringing up the start of legislative business this week. According to a senior Democratic aide, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has notified the caucus he will vote against proceeding to the first bill of the session because Senate Republicans should instead be bringing up the Democratic-led House-passed bills to reopen the government.
Friday is a scheduled payday for federal workers. If the impasse is not resolved by then, some 800,000 federal employees will miss being paid for the first time during the shutdown.
If the standoff continues into the weekend, it will be the longest shutdown in recent history. It also has the potential to impact February food stamp benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Upcoming tax refund checks might have been disrupted too, but the White House said Monday the IRS would issue refunds during the shutdown.