US President Donald Trump has renewed a threat to declare a national emergency to fund the construction of a wall on the Mexican border.
A row with Democrats over funding the wall has left the government partially shut down for 20 days, leaving some 800,000 federal employees unpaid.
On Saturday, the shutdown becomes the longest in US history.
Mr Trump says the wall, a key campaign pledge, is needed to tackle a security crisis of illegal immigration.
The Democrats say the wall is an “immorality” and a waste of taxpayers’ money.W
President Trump has refused to sign legislation to fund and reopen the government if it does not include $5.7bn (£4.5bn) for the wall.
He issued the threat on a visit on Thursday to a border patrol station in McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
He said that if Congress did not approve funding for the wall, he would “probably… I would almost say definitely” declare a national emergency to bypass lawmakers.
“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” he said.
Mr Trump would have the right to undertake such a construction project in times of war and national emergency, usually allocating funds from the department of defence.
But bypassing Congress would be hugely controversial, sparking allegations of the overuse of executive powers and it would almost certainly face huge legal challenges.