Trump Declares National Emergency To Fund U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

President Donald Trump said Friday he will declare a national emergency at the southern U.S. border in an effort to unilaterally seize funding to begin building his long-promised wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump is expected to approve Congress’ spending bill, which grants him $1.375 billion for the wall, as opposed to the $5.7 billion he initially demanded. The national emergency declaration gives Trump a chance to reroute other government money to fund the project ― but also sets up a legal battle that could tie up the president’s signature project for months or years.

The total wall funding will now come to about $8 billion, partially approved by Congress but mostly by Trump alone. That will buy the administration some 234 miles of border wall, a senior administration official told reporters Friday.

The national emergency declaration will allow the Trump administration to use about $3.6 billion from Defense Department construction projects to build the wall, along with another $2.5 billion the department had allocated for counter-drug activities, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters. 

The Trump administration also plans to take executive action to move about $200 million from the Department of Homeland Security and another $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture account.  

None of the money will come from hurricane relief, Mulvaney said. 

The DHS funding bill included restrictions on where new border wall could be constructed. Those restrictions won’t apply to the portions built with national emergency money, a senior administration official said. 

It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted, so he’s waving a magic wand and taking the money.Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Thursday on the Senate floor that Trump planned to sign the bill and declare a national emergency at the same time, adding that he supported the decision. Congress passed a government funding bill Thursday evening.

McConnell warned Trump in private that declaring an emergency would spark a backlash among Republicans, according to The Washington Post

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US troops sent to border by Trump in anticipation of migrant caravans
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military tour the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Onlookers watch as members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians pass members of the U.S. military working to place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S. military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians pass members of the U.S.military working to place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A member of the U.S.military cuts fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge as they work to place razor wire in the area, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)
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A national emergency declaration grants a president the ability to circumvent certain government rules so that an administration can respond to a crisis. In this case, Trump is sidestepping Congress so that he can gain access to certain federal funds without congressional approval.

Administration officials cited dozens of previous national emergency declarations, insisting that Trump would not break with historical precedent by “unlocking” new pots of money for the border wall he seeks.

“It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted, so he’s waving a magic wand and taking the money,” Mulvaney said.

The move is almost certain to be challenged in court.

“Any crisis on our border is of President Trump’s own making: family separations, child detention, turning our backs on asylum seekers, and more. There is no national emergency,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has sued the Trump administration multiple times, said in a statement. “If Trump oversteps his authority and abandons negotiations with Congress by declaring a fabricated national emergency, we won’t only call his bluff, we will do what we must to hold him accountable.”

Prior to the declaration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the proclamation a “gross abuse of the power of the presidency” and vowed that “Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”

For two months, Democrats in Congress have been enmeshed in stalled negotiations with Trump as he refused to accept anything less than $5.7 billion in the federal budget for his border wall. The stalemate caused a record-breaking partial government shutdown that forced an estimated 800,000 government employees to go without pay for 35 days.

Trump reopened the government for three weeks on Jan. 25, allowing government workers to get back to work as border security negotiations continued.

In January, Trump asserted that he had “the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” according to CNN. He called it “the easy route” while insisting that he’d rather Congress approve his border wall funding.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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