Jan. 6 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said Sunday he was considering declaring a national emergency or offering a steel barrier to end the impasse over border security funding at the core of the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Vice President Mike Pence and administration members met again in Washington with congressional staffers Sunday, but Trump preempted the meeting by saying he didn't "expect anything to happen."
He was more optimistic after a briefing on the talks, tweeting there was a "productive meeting" and "many details of Border Security were discussed."
Trump had spent the day in his own meetings with White House staff at Camp David on issues that included border security and the shutdown.
Speaking to reporters from the lawn of the White House afterward, Trump said his administration was "looking at a national emergency because we have a national emergency. ... We have a crisis at the border of drugs, of human beings being trafficked all over the world. They're coming through. And we have an absolute crisis, and of criminals and gang members coming through."
On Friday, he first proposed the emergency funding declaration after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House when he said the government shutdown could last "months or even years" if Congress does not pass funding for his border barrier.
Democratic lawmakers indicated a declaration of national emergency to secure funding for border security would be immediately met with a legal challenge.
"Look, if Harry Truman couldn't nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn't have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion dollar wall on the border," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on CNN's State of the Union. "So that's a non-starter."
The president also floated the idea of a compromise on the nature of the proposed border structure, saying a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall is "fine."
He added that he had informed his staff to say "steel barrier" when discussing the proposed measure and said the slats would be "less obtrusive and stronger" than a concrete wall and "we'll be able to use our great companies to make it, by using steel."
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who attended the sessions both days, told NBC News on Saturday that Trump is willing to "take a concrete wall off the table" in negotiations with Democrats over the shutdown.
"If he has to give up a concrete wall, replace it with a steel fence in order to do that so that Democrats can say, 'See? He's not building a wall anymore,' that should help us move in the right direction," Mulvaney said in an interview to run on Sunday's Meet the Press.
Trump wants $5.7 billion spent on a barrier along Mexico this year and Democrats don't want to spend anything.
In Pence's meeting, acting budget director Russell Vought outlined an additional $1.6 billion for housing migrants and agreement on a Democratic proposal to in-country asylum processing for Central American minors.
During the impasse about 800,000 workers are furloughed or working without pay because they are deemed essential, including in the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security. Three-quarters of the government is fully funded through September, including the military.
"I don't care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats, I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security!," the president tweeted on Saturday.
Trump told reporters Sunday "many of those people that won't be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I'm doing."
On Thursday, Democrats took control of the House and passed two spending bills aimed at ending the shutdown but not including funding for the wall.
Before the shutdown Dec. 22, the Senate unanimously approved the same funding but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., now won't bring the measures up because Trump has said he would veto them. Earlier, Trump had given support of the funding without money for the boarder but changed his mind.