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Trump Declares National Emergency Over Border Wall Funding; Lawsuits Coming

Trump Declares National Emergency Over Border Wall Funding; Lawsuits Coming

President Donald Trump on Friday moved to bypass Congress to fund additional sections of border wall by declaring a national emergency. The move came after Trump said he’ll sign legislation Congress passed to keep the government open, legislation that had been intended as a compromise on the border issue to avoid another shutdown.

Trump said Friday a wall will work to reduce drug smuggling and human trafficking, and called opponents' arguments that it would be ineffective "a big lie ... a big con game."

Trump: 'Walls Work'

"Walls work a hundred percent," Trump said in a morning speech on the White House lawn, where he was joined by several family members of people who were murdered, allegedly by people illegally in the country. "We’re talking about an invasion of our country, with drugs, with human traffickers with all kinds of criminal gangs.

"We are declaring it for virtual invasion purposes," Trump said. "You don't have a border, you don't have a country."

Trump said he expected to be sued over the issue, which opponents have already vowed they would do, arguing his move could be unconstitutional because it usurps Congress' spending authority.

"Sadly, we’ll be sued, and happily we’ll win, I think," Trump said.


The legislation Congress approved Thursday has about $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fencing and barriers –- though not calling it a wall –- along the Mexico-Texas border. That's less than the $5.7 billion Trump has sought, with the legislation paying for about a quarter of the 200-mile section of wall Trump is seeking to have built.

White House officials said Trump's plan would call for spending about $8 billion on border barriers, including the $1.4 billion approved by Congress. Trump said the money would be culled from military budgets, "certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military."

Lawsuit Likely

Several potential plaintiffs have emerged for expected lawsuits challenging the president's ability to spend money without Congress' authorization. Among those already being mentioned as possible plaintiffs were interest groups, Democratic politicians, and the state of California.

Trump acknowledged that now that he's signed an order calling the issue a national emergency, it will go into the courts, but said ultimately he would prevail.

"We will then be sued … and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling," Trump said. "And then we’ll win at the Supreme Court."

Also on Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said she and fellow Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro said they’d file a bill aimed at blocking Trump’s emergency declaration.

While deepening the rift between Democrats, who control the House, and the president, Trump’s signing of the bill that Congress had intended as a compromise will avoid another closing of the government. The stopgap measure undertaken to end the last government shutdown on Jan. 25 only ran through Feb. 15.

The previous shutdown, which started in late December, prevented about 800,000 federal workers from collecting pay for about a month. Polls showed most of the public blamed Trump and Republicans, and they moved to end the stalemate in late January by approving the temporary government funding measure set to expire on Friday.

The move to declare a national emergency, however, in addition to nearly ensuring a legal challenge, brought immediate condemnation from Democrats.

Schumer, Pelosi React

“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,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, said in a joint statement. “It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law. This is not an emergency, and the president’s fearmongering doesn’t make it one."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who originally had expressed opposition to the president declaring an emergency, said he now supports Trump’s move. Other Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said they opposed Trump's move.

Many Democrats said they were disappointed the president was going around Congress after it had made the move to compromise. After giving Trump some of what he wanted, he’s now moving to take the rest, they said.

“I think all of us will come to regret this,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Koons of Delaware. “It is not the right way, for the president to try to end-run Congress when he is unsatisfied with a broad, bipartisan compromise that is delivering billions of dollars more for border security.”


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