WASHINGTON — Without details on when the announcement would come, the White House confirmed today that President Trump would go the route of declaring a national emergency to get more funding for a border wall.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”
Asked by reporters if the administration is prepared for legal challenges to that executive action, Sanders replied, “We’re very prepared, but there shouldn’t be. The president’s doing his job. Congress should do theirs.”
The emergency declaration would mean Trump raiding appropriations for military construction, a pot of about $21 billion. Congress could pass a joint disapproval resolution to block the president’s action, but a veto-proof majority would be needed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters today that filing a legal challenge is “an option, and we’ll review our options.”
“But it’s important to note that when the president declares this emergency, first of all, it’s not an emergency, what’s happening at the border. It’s a humanitarian challenge to us. The president has tried to sell a bill of goods to the American people,” she said. “”…The president’s doing an end run around Congress about the power of the purse.”
“I know the Republicans have some unease about it no matter what they say, because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people,” she warned. “…A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well. So, the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.”
Asked whether House Dems will put a disapproval resolution on the floor that will force Republicans to go on the record about the national emergency declaration, Pelosi replied, “We will review our options, and I’m not prepared to give any preference to any one of them right now.”
“If you want to go down that path, then let’s look at what really is a national emergency,” she later added. “I’m not advocating for any president doing an end run around Congress. I’m just saying that the Republicans should have some dismay about the door that they are opening, the threshold they are crossing.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he believes Trump “was left with no choice but to declare a national emergency,” but said he’s concerned that the military will be minimally affected. “Military housing and all military installations are facing disrepair and poor conditions,” Inhofe said. “We cannot afford to allow them to be further impacted.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declared that he’s “disappointed with both the massive, bloated, secretive bill that just passed and with the president’s intention to declare an emergency to build a wall.”
“I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters,” Paul said. “Over 1,000 pages dropped in the middle of the night and extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them.”