President Trump vowed Thursday to plow ahead with construction of a border wall "one way or the other" even as congressional lawmakers began negotiating a possible border-security compromise -- while insisting the project should simply be called a "wall" from here on out.
Trump in recent weeks, in an apparent effort to ease concerns among Democrats who bristle at talk of a border wall, had alternated between calling it a barrier or fence or "steel slats." On Thursday, he returned to his original language.
“Large sections of WALL have already been built with much more either under construction or ready to go. Renovation of existing WALLS is also a very big part of the plan to finally, after many decades, properly Secure Our Border. The Wall is getting done one way or the other!” he tweeted.
Trump added: “Let’s just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!”
The president’s tweets came as a bipartisan, bicameral conference committee convened to discuss a potential border-security compromise, in the wake of the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Lawmakers have a Feb. 15 deadline to pass new funding legislation or risk a second partial shutdown.
But Trump, who already has warned he could declare a national emergency to pursue the project, seemed Thursday to be lowering expectations for the negotiations while suggesting he'll press forward with or without explicit new funding.
"Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee are wasting their time. Democrats, despite all of the evidence, proof and Caravans coming, are not going to give money to build the DESPERATELY needed WALL. I’ve got you covered. Wall is already being built, I don’t expect much help!" he tweeted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference later Thursday that the negotiations were in "good spirit" but said there was not going to be any wall funding in any legislation coming out of it.
"There is not going to be any wall money in the legislation," she said.
Trump originally sought $5.7 billion for a border wall, only to be rebuffed by Democrats. Amid that standoff, the president for weeks used a variety of softer terms to describe the physical structure he wants on the border. From the Rose Garden last Friday afternoon, when he announced his support for a short-term spending package, Trump said:
“[Democrats] have finally and fully acknowledged that having barriers, fencing, or walls—or whatever you want to call it –will be an important part of the solution.”
Last month, the president also referred to the barrier as “steel slats.”
Trump took heat from the right for even agreeing to the stopgap bill, but is now reiterating his demand for a border wall.
Last week, Trump unveiled somewhat of a new slogan for the border wall, “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!,” which would seemingly replace the old, “BUILD THAT WALL” slogan that so many Trump supporters chanted at rallies across the country since he announced his intention to run for president in 2015.