President Trump has a style of his own to break the past. In this case, President Trump has declared a national emergency that he says will allow him to access $8 billion to build his border wall with Mexico without approval from Congress.
Trump acknowledged the decision is likely to face swift legal opposition and could be decided in the Supreme Court while announcing the emergency in remarks on 22nd February morning from the Rose Garden at the White House.
“I expect to be sued,” he said. Trump also said he could have waited to get funding for the wall over a longer period of time. “I didn’t need to do this,” he said. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement criticizing Trump’s decision before he even left the podium.
President’s emergency declaration, if unchecked, would fundamentally alter the balance of powers, inconsistent with our country’s vision,” they said. “We call upon our Republican colleagues to join us to defend the constitution.”
The declaration follows the passage of a spending bill that will give about $1.4 billion for fencing along the border in Texas — an amount far less than the $5.7 billion Trump demanded to fund the wall. Trump is expected to sign the spending bill, which marks the result of three weeks of negotiations following a 35-day government shutdown, the longest in history, in a standoff over the wall. Democrats in Congress have refused to allocate additional funding for border barriers.
In citing an emergency at the border, Trump disputed figures from his own government. At one point he said the assertion, based on a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report, that most drugs are seized at legal border crossings is “all a lie.”
The emergency declaration has come under criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, who fear Trump is setting a precedent for future Presidents to declare national emergencies to push their policy priorities.
Beyond a legal challenge, Trump will inevitably encounter stiff opposition from Congress that may force a confrontation with his own party. Congress can propose a joint resolution rejecting the declaration that only requires a majority vote in both chambers to pass. It will sail through the Democratic House. If the Democrats in the Senate remain united, they only need to pick off four Republican Senators to join them in opposing the declaration — likely an easy feat since more than double that number rejected the spending bill on Thursday.
Trump would likely veto any resolution that passes through both the House and Senate, putting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the unenviable position of either convincing his caucus to override the veto or allow the President to embark on a path he has publicly opposed.
A senior Democratic leadership aide said it was “likely” the House would introduce a resolution, but declined to provide specifics on timing. Both chambers are in recess until February 25.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump will have about $8 billion in order to build the wall along the southern border, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff told reporters Friday morning ahead of the announcement.
Of that $8 billion, $1.375 billion will come from the appropriations bill, and those funds can be used for barriers, not a wall, along the border. An additional $3.5 billion will come from the Defense Department’s military construction budget, which requires the declaration of a national emergency to be used.
Trump will also be able to use $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interaction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund. Administration
Trump repeated several false claims in announcing the emergency that have long been fact-checked, including falsely saying that “big loads” of drugs come into the U.S. in areas unprotected by barriers. The majority of drugs, however, that come to the U.S. from Mexico cross over through legal ports of entry — not at points along the border that don’t have barriers, according to Customs and Border Protection. While most of the heroin that comes to the U.S. arrives from the southern border, the majority of it comes through legal ports of entry, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment.
Trump is not the first president to declare a national emergency, and a number of previously declared national emergencies are still technically in effect as of Jan. 8, 2019. Currently, various national emergencies from as far back as 1979 to as recently as 2018 remain in effect.
House Democrats on 22nd February introduced a resolution to block the national emergency declaration that President Donald Trump issued to fund his long-sought wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House would vote on the measure on 26th February. The move sets up a fight that could result in Trump’s first veto. It starts the clock on a constitutional clash between Trump and Democrats and sets up a vote by the full House as soon as next week.
The Democratic-controlled House is sure to pass the measure, and the GOP-run Senate may adopt it as well despite Trump’s opposition.
Analysts say that any Trump veto would likely be sustained, but the upcoming battle will test Republican support for Trump’s move, which even some of his allies view as a stretch — and a slap at lawmakers’ control over the power of the federal purse.
A staff aide introduced the measure during a short pro forma session of the House in which Rep. Don Beyer, presided over an almost empty chamber.
“What the president is attempting is an unconstitutional power grab,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, the sponsor of the resolution, on a call with reporters. “There is no emergency at the border.”
Trump’s declaration of a national emergency gives him access to about $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects to divert to border fencing. But the administration is more likely to tap funding from a federal asset forfeiture fund and Defense Department anti-drug efforts first.
Pelosi said that the House measure would “reassert our system of checks and balances.”
Should the House and the Senate initially approve the measure, Congress seems unlikely to muster the two-thirds majorities in each chamber that would be needed later to override a certain Trump veto.
The measure to block Trump’s edict will be closely watched in the Senate, where moderates such as Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have signaled they would back it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is only a reluctant supporter of Trump on the topic.
Trump’s GOP allies promised they would uphold any veto denying Democrats the two-thirds votes required to overcome one.
“Democrats’ angst over Congress’ power of the purse is unwarranted, especially since the commander in chief’s authority to redirect military funds for a national emergency is affirmed in a law passed by their own branch,” said top House Judiciary Committee Republican Doug Collins of Georgia.
The battle is over an emergency declaration Trump issued to access billions of dollars beyond what Congress has authorized to start erecting border barriers. Building his proposed wall was the most visible trademark of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Congress last week approved a vast spending bill providing nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles (89 kilometers) of border barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley while preventing a renewed government shutdown. That measure represented a rejection of Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles (322 kilometers).
Besides signing the bill, Trump also declared a national emergency and used other authorities that he says give him access to an additional $6.6 billion for wall building. That money would be transferred from a federal asset forfeiture fund, Defense Department anti-drug efforts and a military construction fund. Federal officials have yet to identify which projects would be affected.
Castro said he has already garnered support from a majority of the Democratic-controlled House as co-sponsors and that he has at least one GOP sponsor, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.
Castro’s measure says Trump’s emergency declaration “is hereby terminated.” Castro chairs the 38-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Pelosi wrote in a letter to her fellow lawmakers that the Republican president’s “decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated.”
Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Ambassador of Bangladesh to the UN, Geneva.