WASHINGTON: Top congressional Democrats pushed back sternly Tuesday against Donald Trump, warning that the US president was holding Americans “hostage” by refusing to fund shuttered government agencies until he gets money for his much-hyped border wall.

“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must re-open the government,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a curt rebuttal to Trump’s address to the nation, in which he declared the situation on the southern border a “crisis of the heart.”

The political impasse over Trump’s demand for a border wall — and the divided Congress’s refusal to fund it — has kept key government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security shuttered for the past 18 days, with few signs that a breakthrough is imminent.


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