Did President Trump pull one over on the Democrats (and more than a few recalcitrant Republicans) when he signed their bloated, ungodly $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that only provided $1.6 billion for border wall construction?
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gloated on Sunday that the budget Trump signed last week did not include money for a new wall: “I remind the president, he did campaign on the wall, and guess who he said would pay for it? How about going to Mexico and getting them to pay for it, because this budget doesn’t allow American citizens to pay for it.”
The president, however, hinted in a tweet on Sunday that he plans to use part of the bill’s $654.6 billion in military funding to pay for the wall:
Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2018
“You know, Donald Trump is not a natural politician, he’s not a professional politician, but oh my God, does he learn quickly!” laughed political commentator Dick Morris in a video posted on YouTube Monday.
“Trump is taking the position that the border wall is a measure for the defense of the United States,” Morris explained. “And he’s saying that the money that was allocated to the defense budget will now also pay for the border wall. And he’s using his authority as commander in chief to declare an emergency on the border, and to say that the national defense requires the wall to be built,” the former pollster added.
Morris explained that a proper budget bill is “set in stone” and cannot be changed without congressional approval. However, Congress has had to pass continuing resolutions or supplemental budgets every few months because Democrats have been blocking the Republicans’ budgets. He noted that the threat of a government shutdown gives the Democrats leverage in budget negotiations. But the upside for Trump is that, with a supplemental appropriation, continuing resolution, or omnibus spending bill, the president can do what he likes.
“They’re obliged by the rules of the Senate under sequester to have a certain amount in non-defense, discretionary spending and a certain amount of defense spending, and you can’t fudge within those boundaries. But within those boundaries, you can move the funds all about as you wish,” Morris explained.
“That is absolutely incredible,” he beamed. “They can’t contradict it, they can’t override it, the courts will undoubtedly sustain it, and he’s gonna get his wall even though the Democrats fought tooth and nail against it and thought they had killed it. But Mr. Trump didn’t make a billion dollars without outfoxing people, and boy, he outsmarted them on this one,” said Morris with a laugh.
Trump suggested in his remarks at the White House signing ceremony last week that he will use military spending to build the wall as part of his “national defense” strategy.
“I want to address the situation on border security, which I call national defense. I call it stopping drugs from pouring across our border. And I call it illegal immigration. It’s all of those things,” he said. “But national defense is a very important two words. Because by having a strong border system, including a wall, we are in a position, militarily, that is very advantageous.”