Trump Declares National Emergency To Pay For Border Wall

Update: The blowback begins, with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer: "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."

To be sure, as Trump himself stated, he "expects to be sued" over the national emergency, and anticiaptes the case will eventually escalate to the Supreme Court.

For those who missed it, here is Trump's full presser and Q&A:

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As previewed last night, in a national address, Trump said would declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and build $8 billion in barriers on the border, a critical step toward his long-desired wall along the southern border. Trump's move, announced in an improvised address from the Rose Garden, will launch a fierce constitutional battle in the courts with lawmakers and outside groups opposed to his decision.

“I am going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said after a long introduction to his remarks that touched on trade, China and the caravans of immigrants that Trump made a political issue of ahead of last fall's midterm elections.

“It’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” the president said in seeking to justify the need for an emergency declaration.

"People that should have stepped up did not step up... It would have been easy," Trump said of the national emergency to fund the border wall, saying it would have been "great to have done it earlier."

Trump is separately set to sign legislation approved by Congress that funds the government and prevents a new shutdown set to begin on Saturday. But that legislation fell far short of his demands for $5.7 billion in wall funding.

Trump will redirect $3.6 billion in military construction funding toward the border project, and will also take separate executive action repurposing about $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug-interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset-forfeiture fund. Officials said the goal is to ultimately build roughly 234 miles of barriers along the border, including bollard-style wall.

An administration official did not identify which military construction projects would be affected but said funding would be taken from “lower-priority construction projects,” such as funding to fix or repair existing structures, and not from flood-mitigation efforts or projects that would affect military readiness. Disaster-relief funds will also not be touched.

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Lawmakers in both parties have criticized Trump's decision to declare an emergency, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did offer his support on Thursday. McConnell also announced that Trump would be taking the step of declaring an emergency.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking Thursday on the anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings, said it could lead a new president to declare a national emergency on guns. Such a scenario is exactly what some GOP lawmakers have feared.

"A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans."

Mulvaney pushed back against Democrats’ claims Trump’s move would allow a president from their party to declare an emergency over an issue like climate change and gun violence, saying it “actually creates zero precedent” and calling the claim “completely false.”

Additionally, Democrats are expected to bring a resolution of disapproval on the emergency declaration that is likely to win GOP support. While it is unlikely to win enough support to overcome a Trump veto, it may have majority support in the Senate as well as the House.

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Trump’s decision to sign the spending bill ends three weeks of uncertainty over whether he would trigger another shutdown over his demand for wall money. The president reopened closed government agencies on Jan. 25 after a 35-day shutdown that resulted in a major blow to his approval ratings and no financing for a wall.

According to The Hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill spent the ensuing weeks hammering out a proposal that includes $1.375 billion in wall funding, only a fraction of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded. Trump’s acceptance of the compromise marked a defeat for a president who touted his negotiating skills during the 2016 campaign, and it showed Democrats’ increased leverage under divided government. As such the only option Trump had was to declare a national emergency: what happens next remains to be seen.

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EARLIER:

Before signing the border funding bill that has now passed both the House and Senate, President Trump is reportedly planning to announce his plan to declare a national emergency to source an additional $7 billion in funding for his border wall beyond the $1.35 billion for a "physical barrier" approved as part of the compromise bill.

The speech is set to begin at 10 am ET. Trump will be speaking from the Rose Garden:

Trump plans to use his unilateral authority to spend more than $8 billion to construct physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a White House official, a maneuver that Speaker Pelosi has already warned will likely prompt a lengthy legal challenge.

According to media reports, Trump will use the declaration to redirect $3.5 billion that Congress approved for the Defense Department’s military construction budget, while also redirecting $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interdiction efforts and $600 million from the Treasury department’s drug forfeiture program.

Surprisingly since it was widely telegraphed during the shutdown, some Republicans are pushing back against Trump's national emergency declaration plans, according to Bloomberg, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that he would support the plan. 

Meanwhile, others - including Rand Paul and Marco Rubio - have criticized the plan, claiming it raises constitutional issues and could set a dangerous precedent.

It’s "a bad idea," said GOP Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. "It raises real constitutional questions."

But others backed Trump and McConnell. "I stand firmly behind President Trump’s decision to use executive powers to build the wall-barriers we desperately need," said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and ally of Trump.

[...]

GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky also told reporters he doesn’t support an emergency declaration.

"The Constitution is very clear at trying to separate the powers, and if we start naming things as emergency I think very quickly we lose sort of the checks and balances of government," he said.

Susan Collins of Maine, who has always been lukewarm in her support of a border wall, criticized the measure for circumventing Congress.

GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine opposed an emergency order because “it undermines the role of Congress and the appropriations process.”

Others echoed the oft-repeated criticism that, if Trump does this, then what would stop a future president Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris from declaring a national emergency to fight climate change and end fossil fuel consumption?

"If Trump can get away with declaring a national emergency and then spending money on this construction project which is only vaguely related to national security, why wouldn’t future presidents do the same thing?" asked Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University and an expert in constitutional law and property law. "What’s to stop a President Elizabeth Warren or any other Democratic president from saying climate change is a threat to national security?"

Already, Democrats are marshaling the resistance to Trump's efforts. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said she will introduce a bill on Friday to try and block Trump.

But before Dems start screeching about how unprecedented this is, here's a list of all the national emergencies.

Of course, we should expect an avalanche of media-sponsored outrage that President Trump should declare this a National Emergency in order to secure funding, but as The Epoch Times details, there are currently 31 active National Emergencies...

  1. Nov 14, 1979: Blocking Iranian Government Property (EO12170)

  2. Nov 14, 1994: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (EO 12938)

  3. Jan 23, 1995: Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process (EO 12947)

  4. Mar 15, 1995: Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Development of Iranian Petroleum Resources (EO 12957)

  5. Oct 21, 1995: Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers (EO 12978)

  6. Mar 1, 1996: Declaration of a National Emergency and Invocation of Emergency Authority Relating to the Regulation of the Anchorage and Movement of Vessels (Proc. 6867)

  7. Nov 3, 1997: Blocking Sudanese Government Property and Prohibiting Transactions With Sudan (EO 13067)

  8. Jun 26, 2001: Blocking Property of Persons Who Threaten International Stabilization Efforts in the Western Balkans (EO 13219)

  9. Aug 17, 2001: Continuation of Export Control Regulations (EO 13222)

  10. Sep 14, 2001: Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks (Proc. 7463)

  11. Sep 23, 2001: Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism (EO 13224)

  12. Mar 6, 2003: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Zimbabwe (EO 13288)

  13. May 22, 2003: Protecting the Development Fund for Iraq and Certain Other Property in Which Iraq Has an Interest (EO 13303)

  14. May 11, 2004: Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Export of Certain Goods to Syria (EO 13338)

  15. Jun 16, 2006: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Belarus (EO 13405)

  16. Oct 27, 2006: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (EO 13413)

  17. 17. Aug 1, 2007: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions (EO 13441)

  18. Jun 26, 2008: Continuing Certain Restrictions With Respect to North Korea & North Korean Nationals (EO 13466)

  19. Apr 12, 2010: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in Somalia (EO 13536)

  20. Feb 25, 2011: Blocking Property and Prohibiting Certain Transactions Related to Libya (EO 13566)

  21. Jul 24, 2011: Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations (EO13581)

  22. May 16, 2012: Blocking Property of Persons Threatening the Peace, Security, or Stability of Yemen (EO 13611)

  23. Mar 6, 2014: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine (EO 13660)

  24. Apr 3, 2014: Blocking Property of Certain Persons With Respect to South Sudan (EO 13664)

  25. May 12, 2014: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in the Central African Republic (EO 13667)

  26. Mar 8, 2015: Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela (EO 13692)

  27. Apr 1, 2015: Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities (EO 13694)

  28. Nov 22, 2015: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Burundi (EO 13712)

  29. Dec 20, 2017: Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption (EO13818)

  30. Sep 12, 2018: Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election (EO 13848)

  31. Nov 27, 2018: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua (EO 13851)

...and since the National Emergencies Act went into effect in the mid-1970s, a total of 58 have been declared, most of which were in regard to foreign issues (like the War in Iraq).

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