US President Donald Trump has demanded funding for his long-promised US-Mexico border wall to halt "a growing humanitarian and security crisis," the BBC reports.
But in his first TV address to the nation from the Oval Office, Mr Trump did not declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and build the barrier.
Democratic leaders accuse him of holding the American people hostage.
Both sides are trying to gain an edge amid an 18-day government shutdown.
The Republican president wants $5.7bn to build a steel barrier, which would deliver on his signature campaign pledge.
But Democrats - who recently took control of the House of Representatives - are adamantly opposed to giving him the funds.
The ongoing closure of a quarter of federal agencies is the second-longest in history, leaving hundreds of thousands of government workers unpaid.