On Friday, President Trump said that he was declaring a national emergency at the southern border. Using his executive powers, he made a bid to divert billions of dollars towards the wall, while at the same time, signing a funding package to divert $1.4 billion dollars to the construction of the wall. “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border … one way or the other, we have to do it,” said Trump.
Trump’s declaration and money-moving plans allow him to keep up the fight for the construction of the wall, while also avoiding another shutdown – which would have been the case if the new funding package wasn’t signed. The new spending deal was signed Friday afternoon. As Trump confirmed that the emergency declaration would be accompanied by legislation, he explained that “walls work.”
The president is surely expecting that there will be a legal fight that ends up in the Supreme Court. “We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued,” Trump said, knowing that the federal appeals courts could certainly rule against Trump and his administration.”Then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully, we’ll get a fair shake, and we’ll win at the Supreme Court — just like the [travel] ban.” Fox News was told by a senior administration official that the White House has intentions on moving the currently available funds towards the construction of the border wall, which equals to $8 billion at the moment.
The Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund adds about $600 million to the border wall fund. The forfeiture fund is considered “easy money” and can be used however the White House wants to use it. It’s also expected that the White House has intentions of using intercepted drug money from the Department of Defense, as well.
Due to Trump declaring a state of emergency, he is also able to open up access to the Defense Department’s military construction budget, which adds up to be a cool $3.5 billion. Diverting Pentagon funding, however, is expected to set off a legal battle and has already prompted fierce opposition from Democrats in Congress. The Democrats in Congress have been clear opposers of the wall, so diverting funding from the Pentagon is sure to begin a battle in the courts. “This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in a joint statement.
“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution.” They made a promise that Congress would “defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”
It’s not surprising that Democrats are bringing as much trouble as they can when it comes to Trump securing money for the wall. “The President’s declaration of a national emergency would be an abuse of his constitutional oath and an affront to the separation of powers. Congress has the exclusive power of the purse, and the Constitution specifically prohibits the President from spending money that has not been appropriated. … This is a gross abuse of power that cannot be tolerated,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. This isn’t the only declared national emergency at the moment. Including the reproduction of weapons of mass destruction, blocking Iranian government property, and other acts of terror, the Congressional Research Service shows that there are at least 30 national emergencies currently in effect. But not one of those emergencies has been declared by the president in an effort to use money that hasn’t been granted by Congress.
The review of the spending package has led Trump to make the decision of declaring a national emergency. The package passed in the House and the Senate on Thursday, after going through several weeks of negotiations in a bipartisan conference committee. Regardless, the deal only provides Trump with a fraction of the original proposal of $5.7 billion for the construction of the wall and border security. The decision to make the emergency declaration could have stemmed from the fact that the bill imposed several restrictions on the White House, including the legislative language used that prevented money from being moved around to get the border wall.
Currently, there’s only enough funding to build just 55 miles of the wall. Also, the word “wall” doesn’t appear even one time in the 1,768 pages of explanatory and legislation materials. This battle for funding followed the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States of America. For 35 days —from Dec. 22 until Jan 25—the White House and congressional Democrats went toe-to-toe in an effort to secure funding for the border wall. Even though Trump requested $5.7 billion for the wall, Democrats vowed to knock down any proposal that included funding for the wall. More than 800,000 federal employees and contractors went without work, or worked without pay, due to the shutdown. But at the end of last month, Trump signed a short-term spending package that would fund the government through the deadline this past Friday.
After the previous shutdown, neither side desired to have it happen again, so they were able to reach a compromise Thursday. President Trump has been talking for several weeks about taking executive action to get the funding for the construction of the wall, without a congressional signature—which has also been done in the past by Barack Obama.