The Pentagon is reportedly drawing up options to build a wall at the southern border should President Trump commit to declaring a national emergency.
The revelation is the latest in a line of moves that indicate the President is gravitating toward the option that would allow him to circumvent Congress and continue construction on the wall.
“The Department of Defense is reviewing available authorities and funding mechanisms to identify options to enable border barrier construction,” a Pentagon spokesman told USA Today. “As there has not been such a declaration made, it would be inappropriate to comment further on those efforts.”
Trump has declared his “absolute right” to make an emergency declaration and the White House has prepared legal arguments to defend the stance. He has yet to officially do so, but all signs are pointing to that eventuality.
It’s looking increasingly likely that Trump will declare a national emergency so he can divert military funding to pay for the border wall. The Pentagon is ready for that possibility.
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) January 10, 2019
Signs Are Pointing to the Declaration
From the time President Trump announced his primetime speech and subsequent trip to the border, he has been consistently hinting at the possibility of declaring a national emergency at the border.
Trump’s speech itself shifted the focus of the debate to a humanitarian crisis – job theft and heroin epidemic – that only a wall can solve.
Following that effort and the Democrats’ weak rebuttal, Trump warned that he might declare an emergency, though he expressed optimism about reaching a deal.
“I have the absolute right to do a national emergency if I want,” he said. “I think something will happen. I really do. Otherwise, we will have to go about it in a different manner.”
That optimism quickly evaporated when the opposition party refused to budge and Trump walked out of a meeting saying, “Bye, bye.”
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Reports surfaced shortly thereafter that the White House was preparing legal arguments for issuing a declaration.
Now, behind the scenes, the Pentagon is preparing to make a move.
Democrats Will Try to Stop It
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said that the Democrats would sue if the President takes the emergency route to funding and building the wall.
“It is analogous to governments that we have seen all over the world declaring martial law, and justifying them in doing whatever they wanted to do to whomever they wanted to do it, whenever they wanted to do it,” Hoyer said.
“We don’t think that’s the American way; we don’t think that’s the constitutional way,” he added.
Some reports indicate that administration advisers believe an emergency declaration would successfully be halted in the courts. Vice President Mike Pence indicates that Trump will fight no matter what.
“The president believes he has an absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Pence said. “The president is going to get this done one way or the other.”