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Trump’s border battle goes prime time

Illustration of a TV covered in barb wire
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Buckle up: President Trump's prime-time Oval Office speech tonight comes on Day 18 of a shutdown he caused on the issue he wants to define his presidency — immigration.

Following Trump's speech at 9 pm ET, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will appear on air from the House Speaker's Balcony Hallway.

  • Unlike last year, when Democrats could only express their concern about Trump, Pelosi now speaks as a figure Trump needs to deal with on equal terms.
  • Trump isn’t expected to declare a national emergency, WSJ reports.

Between the lines: Trump appears to be playing defense.

  • It's unclear why incoming Democrats would be swayed by this issue so shortly after the president made it a central election topic and his party lost the House.
  • House Democrats also plan to start introducing bills to re-open parts of the government, hoping the threat of defecting Republicans persuades leadership to break with Trump.
  • Senate Democrats are working to grind legislation to a standstill to pressure Mitch McConnell, the NY Times reports.
  • Trump will attend a Senate Republican lunch meeting on Wednesday, according to multiple people familiar with the decision.

Go deeper: Reality check — The truth about Trump's border crisis

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