WASHINGTON – Millions will watch Tuesday night as President Donald Trump lays out his latest plan for border security and the money needed to pay for it. That audience will likely include many of the federal employees across the country whose bills are stacking up as they wait for their next paycheck, thanks to the partial government shutdown.
"You think I like doing this? I don't like doing this," President Trump told reporters regarding the shutdown, which is now in its third week.
But like it or not, Democrats say the president's $5.5 billion demand for a border wall has made pawns of federal workers.
WATCH LIVE tonight at 9 PM: CBN News Channel Coverage of President Trump's Oval Office Address
"We oughtta have that argument on the substance and not have 800,000 employees held hostage," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told NBC's "Meet the Press."
However, the acting White House chief of staff, Mich Mulvaney, says the president's request is only one side of the coin.
"Keep in mind it takes two to tango in this town," Mulvaney said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I could just as easily say that it's the Democrats' refusal to give the necessary money for border security that is the cause of the shutdown."
President Trump says if Democrats don't want a wall, he's happy to call it something else.
"If I have a steel wall, or you could call it a steel fence, it'll be more powerful than any of the concrete walls that we're talking about. It's possible that it'll look better," said Trump.
If that doesn't work, he's floated other options.
"I may declare a national emergency dependent on what's going to happen over the next few days," continued Trump.
Doing so would allow the president to tap into $10 billion of unused funds set aside for the US Army Corps of Engineers.
"He could technically go down that route," CBN News Chief Political Analyst David Brody explained. "He would actually have to explain the statute that he is using the emergency for."
Although the National Emergencies Act has been on the book for more than four decades, Brody says the president would still need congressional buy-in.
"Here's a bit of the rub: Congress, if they didn't want him to invoke this national emergency, would be able to overturn it by basically saying, 'No, Mr. President, you can't do it' if they can pass a joint resolution in both the House and the Senate," said Brody. "That means the language has to be the same in the Democrat House and the Republican Senate. Good luck with that."
On CBN's Monday edition of "Faith Nation," Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun said the president would likely find support from the GOP side of the aisle.
"If he declared a national emergency and thought it needed to be done in that fashion, most of us would be for it," said Braun, "because it looks like the other side is doing everything it can to do nothing."
But there's still the human side to all of this back and forth – like the bills stacking up for unpaid federal employees.
"Our mortgage, our gas, electric, trash, water bill," said federal worker Marilyn Carrothers.
Three weeks in, many workers are resorting to paying bills with credit cards.
"Creditors may make an extension, but if you go past that extension it's going to affect your credit," warned Carrothers.
And these workers are left wondering – who will pay the interest fees if their paychecks don't come in time?
"We want to go back to work. We need to go back to work. We have bills to pay," said Carrothers.