Trump declares national emergency to access border wall funding, setting stage for legal battles

'We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued,' president says while signing government funding bill

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 15 February 2019 17:41
Comments
Donald Trump declares national emergency to release funds for border wall

Donald Trump is signing a federal funding bill to avoid another government shutdown and announcing a series of executive actions along the US-Mexico border, including the declaration of a national emergency – setting the stage for a major legal showdown.

The border security compromise was approved by congress on Thursday afternoon as the president threatened to declare a national emergency if the billions of dollars he requested to go towards building a wall was not included in the bill.

The measure reportedly includes just $1.4bn (£1bn) for “border barriers,” much less than what the president had previously demanded, and less than previous bipartisan measures had approved for barrier funding.

“It’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, an invasion of gangs, an invasion of people, and it’s unacceptable,” Mr Trump said while announcing the national emergency he declared along the US-Mexico border on Friday.

The president’s border wall executive actions are expected to circumvent money from funds targeted for military construction and counterdrug efforts.

“The order is signed,” the president declared. “We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court,” he continued, adding the nation’s highest court will “hopefully” provide a "fair shake".

The uproar over Trump’s latest move casts a shadow over what had been a rare display of bipartisanship to address the grinding battle between the White House and lawmakers over border security.

The Senate passed the legislation 83-16, with both parties solidly aboard. The House followed with a 300-128 tally.

Despite widespread opposition in congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Mr Trump was responding to pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid appearing like he’s lost his wall battle.

Word that the president would declare the emergency prompted condemnations from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said he was abusing his authority.

In an unusual joint statement, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said such the declaration would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract” from Mr Trump’s failure to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as he’s promised for years.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

“Congress will defend our constitutional authorities,” they said. They declined to say whether that meant lawsuits or votes on resolutions to prevent Trump from unilaterally shifting money to wall-building, with aides saying they’d "wait to see what he does".

Additional reporting by AP

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in