President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the Rose Garden this past Friday, Feb. 15. This is in an effort to get more funding for his border wall, though members of Congress on both sides question if the declaration is constitutional.
A spending package was passed by Congress the day prior to the announcement, which included $1.375 billion authorized to provide fencing for the border.
This declaration enables Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall. He will also tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund for the wall.
In total, Trump now has $8 billion to advance construction of new barriers and repairs on existing barriers along the Mexico border. This amount is larger than the $5.7 billion proposed before the government shut down last month.
In the announcement from Friday morning, Trump commented on his reasoning behind it:
“We don’t control our own border,” he stated. “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other. It’s an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”
“I didn’t need to do this,” he added. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”
Trump is facing opposition from legislative voices, questioning the constitutionality of the declaration and the practice of taking funds from the military construction projects budget.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an Iraq War veteran, stated in a tweet: “That money is to build facilities to recruit, train and retain the world’s best military. A fake national emergency takes money from that mission.”
A joint statement was released by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. It stated:
“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.”
The statement continued:
“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff answered reporters questions on Friday morning, stating that the White House will not use any money designated as disaster assistance for Puerto Rico or Texas for the wall.
He spoke against the motion that Trump’s actions would create a precedent for others to use in the future.
“It actually creates zero precedent,” Mulvaney said. “This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted and waved a magic wand to get some money.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) defended Trump’s plan during an appearance on Fox News.
“I certainly support the president,” Meadows said. “I wish Congress could have done more to help him. [Trump’s actions were necessary] because Congress has failed this president and the American people. The law of the land allows this president to do what he is about to do.”
Trump later acknowledged the potential legal scrutiny he could face from members of Congress.
“Hopefully we’ll get a fair shake [in the Supreme Court],” said Trump. “We’re declaring it for virtual invasion purposes. Sadly, we’ll be sued, and sadly, we’ll go through a process.”