The president announced this morning that he will use $8 billion that is included in the spending bill to construct the new border wall. He said he expected to be sued by liberals, but explained that the ‘invasion’ warrants the move.
President Donald Trump formally declared a national emergency at the border during a televised announcement in the Rose Garden.
The president explained that he’d be signing the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the southwestern border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security.
He added that some of the emergency could be used under orders previously signed by Obama, and that are still in effect.
“The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counter-narcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”
“Combined with the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress on Thursday night, Mr. Trump would then have about $8 billion in all to advance construction of new barriers and repairs or replacement of existing barriers along the border this year, significantly more than the $5.7 billion that Congress refused to give him.”
During the press conference, while taking highly partisan questions, the president reminded reporters that he wasn’t supposed to get “one dollar,” referring to Nancy Pelosi’s venomous claim.
Other people have suggested that there is much, much more money available to use in the national emergency.
For example, the president will have “access to money Congress already approved in the Pentagon’s military construction budget. Roughly $10 billion is available in this fiscal year’s budget, and another roughly $11 billion is available in unobligated funds from the past five years’ military construction budgets.”
Since the funds have not been allocated and no contracts signed, the spending is available at his discretion.
“He’s free to spend it without a vote from Congress,” a congressional aide said. “He has to notify Congress of what he’s done but he doesn’t have to come to Congress to do it.”
In addition to the $21 billion, another $800 million in counter-drug money is also available, which would be hard for liberals to dispute if it was spent on policies designed to stop the drug trade pouring across the border.
“The president’s doing his job. Congress should do theirs,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday.
Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can try to pass a resolution disapproving of his declaration using a simple majority. However, the president has the power to veto any congressional obstruction.
His decision to sign the bill and declare a national emergency, which was announced yesterday, immediately drew condemnation from democrats and many republicans.
Democrats vowed to sue to stop such a move, but the president clearly stated that he expected such tactics and would prevail in the courts.
“Legal experts have said the administration can make serious arguments to justify its move,” and many people agree, given the previous administration’s penchant for signing amnesty and other ‘orders’ that were unconstitutional. The difference is that Trump’s plan has the backing of the law.
White House officials rejected critics who said Mr. Trump was creating a precedent that future presidents could use.
“It actually creates zero precedent,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters on Friday morning. “This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted and waved a magic wand to get some money.”
The spending package passed by Congress yesterday, according to White House officials, will be signed by the president later today.
During the press conference, the president was in control and made string arguments in the face of hostile questions. He reminded viewers that new wall construction has already begun, and many people argue that the reason liberals are so fired up about the national emergency is because they know Trump will legally build the wall under the plan.