President Trump will sign the bipartisan funding bill pending in Congress and then declare a national emergency to build the border wall, the White House announced Thursday afternoon.
That was the course of action recommended by Fox anchor and informal Trump adviser Sean Hannity, who on Monday denounced the funding bill as a “garbage compromise” but later said it was acceptable if coupled with an emergency declaration. “This is the time. That is a necessity,” Hannity said. “Trump keeps his promises. I predict he'll find a way to get the money to build the wall,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who announced the plan on the Senate floor shortly before the White House confirmed it, said he had spoken to Trump and “indicated to him that I’m going to support the national emergency declaration.”
But Ann Coulter, the conservative provocateur whose opposition helped persuade the president to kill an earlier compromise deal, leading to the five-week government shutdown that ended last month, was not as pleased.“There's no coming back from this,” she said. “No ‘emergency’ or presidential powers will allow him to build the wall, ever, after he signs this bill. Trump has just agreed to fully open borders.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in brief remarks after the White House announcement warned that a future Democratic president could use the precedent of declaring a national emergency for other purposes, such as gun control, citing the anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting that left 17 dead.
"Because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he’s created as an emergency, an illusion he wants to convey, just think what a president with different values could present to the American people,” said Pelosi. “You want to talk about a national emergency? Let's talk about today. The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. Why don't you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well."
Some prominent Republicans also criticized the Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency.
"It would be a pretty dramatic expansion of how this was used in the past," said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
“It’s a bad idea,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Pelosi has the option of triggering a vote on Trump’s declaration, forcing Republicans to go on the record about whether or not they support the emergency wall. Asked if she would file a legal challenge to the emergency declaration, she responded, “I may.”
An emergency declaration would allow Trump to divert funds appropriated for other purposes to build the wall. Trump has said he would shift the money from “far less important” government programs, with many speculating it will be through the Department of Defense.
But even if the emergency declaration is upheld, actually building the wall could face legal challenges from landowners along the border whose property would need to be acquired.
The White House has cited a “humanitarian crisis” at the border as the basis for declaring an emergency, but it’s unclear exactly what that refers to. Trump has mentioned a variety of justifications, including groups of migrants seeking asylum, drug and human trafficking and crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
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