President Trump has agreed to sign off on new spending bill to keep the U.S. government open. The White House also announced it will be declaring a state of emergency at the southern border.
On Thursday, Congress proposed a funding bill that would keep the U.S. government from shutting down again which included $1.375 billion for President Trump’s southern border wall. It passed. All that was needed was for Trump himself to sign off on it.
Many have called this another win for Pelosi and the Democrats, reducing Trump’s demanded $5.7 billion down to the proposed amount. Although Trump immediately expressed his displeasure at this deal, to avert another government shutdown on Friday he agreed to sign off on the bill. This news came as a relief to millions of Americans who were severely financially affected by the previous, historically long shutdown.
But there’s a catch.
Trump has previously threatened to allow the government to shutdown again if a new, satisfactory deal could not be reached by the February 15 deadline. Either that, or Trump would exercise his presidential powers to declare a state of emergency at the southern border, which would allow him to reallocate funds from areas such as the military and disaster relief to fund his wall.
On Thursday, the White House announced it was going to do just that.
It had been previously stated that Trump could reallocate up to $7 billion to build the wall if he calls a state of emergency. However, Trump has taken criticism for this due to his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, not the American taxpayers. Mexico has since repeatedly refused to pay for a wall.
President Trump recently told reporters that the wall will be “paid indirectly by the great new trade deal” with Mexico.
At the same time, on social media, Vermont Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders refuted Trump’s claims stating, “That’s a lie. If this wall were to be built Mexico would not pay for it, American taxpayers would.”
In recent weeks, Trump has taken much bipartisan criticism for his threat to use his presidential powers to declare a state of emergency to build his physical border wall; a main campaign promise from 2016.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn has previously stated that calling a national emergency on such issues was a “serious constitutional question.”
Other Republicans have stated that the use of these powers for such matters could open the door for future Democratic presidents to use the same powers for such issues as healthcare and climate change; topics which Republicans have consistently denied need attention.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins told reporters that she saw “no grounds” to call an emergency. However, there are those in the GOP who have shown their support for Trump’s decision.
It’s not just Congress who have questioned the validity of exercising such powers to build a wall. Associate Professor Matt Dallek, who studies presidential powers at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, told reporters, “There’s no real sort of reality-based reason for declaring a national emergency now”.
It remains unclear what powers President Trump will cite to declare a national emergency at the southern border but whatever he does cite, there are sure to legal challenges and opposition in the very near future.