White House says tax refunds will go out on time

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Trump administration official says income tax refunds for 2018 will go out on time during the partial government shutdown because rules will be changed to make funding available to pay them.

Russell Vought, acting director of the White House budget office, tells reporters: "The refunds will go out as normal. There is an indefinite appropriation to pay tax refunds."

The IRS may recall a large number of furloughed employees to process returns -- probably without pay -- in accordance with its contingency plans. But with the shutdown in its third week, concern was growing that hundreds of billions of dollars in refunds would be delayed until the shutdown ends because funding for them wouldn't be available.

Vought says the administration is changing the customary rules "from past administrations."

In other actions related to the partial shutdown, Vice President Mike Pence says the White House is looking into the legality of declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and begin construction on President Donald Trump's long-promised Southern border wall.

He says Trump continues to weigh the idea but has yet to make a decision.

The comments came as Pence briefed reporters on the 17th day of the partial government shutdown. He was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior administration officials.

Pence says the president has invited Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi back to the White House to continue their discussions. But he says Trump isn't budging on his demand for billions for his border wall.

Pence also says he and Nielsen will be visiting the Capitol Tuesday and Wednesday to brief House and Senate members.