Trump to declare national emergency for border wallPosted by Annie May / February 15, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor yesterday that President Trump will be declaring a state of national emergency today as reported by the BBC. The announcement is expected to take place around 10AM Friday.
In an unexpected move, President Trump will be utilizing his national emergency powers to construct his long-promised border wall. He will be using his powers to move existing funds towards the creation of the wall. The move has stoked fears that President Trump is pushing forward an unprecedented power grab. However, other presidents have called for national emergencies as well, but not for such politically-motivated reasons.
Although successful in avoiding another government shutdown today, President Trump has done what initially Republicans were wary of: calling for a national emergency. Senior Democrats are calling the move a “gross abuse of power,” but some Republicans are actively voicing support for the measure to solve the border crisis.
The border wall debate led to the closure of the government for 35 days back in December and January, the longest shutdown in history. Democrats and Republicans came to a brief agreement to reopen the government then, but now President Trump seems to be taking actions into his own hands.
The new spending bill required to keep the government open passed today in the Senate with a vote of 83-16. The House also backed the measure in a vote of 300 to 128. The spending bill included $1.3B for border security which would include physical barriers, but is far below the $5.7B Trump wanted for his border wall.
On the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his support for the emergency powers measure and said the President can use “whatever tools he legally can to enhance his efforts to secure the border.”
“A Lawless Act” Say Democrats
In response to President Trump’s bold move, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement which strongly condemned the action.
“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” the statement said.
“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it,” the statement goes on to say.
The Democrats, especially Nancy Pelosi, have already said they expect to put forward a legal challenge. There is also considerable speculation over whether or not the state of emergency would pass through the courts.
There is talk over what sort of precedent President Trump’s move will set. Democrats potentially see their opportunity to enact the same powers for their own political ends in the future if President Trump’s measure is allowed.
This story is still developing.