President Trump is preparing to make a national emergency declaration that could allow him to spend up to $8 billion to construct a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the President would both sign the recently approved budget compromise and declare the national emergency.
“I just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump and he’s prepared to sign the bill,” McConnell said. “He will also be signing a national emergency declaration at the same time.”
That move will reportedly free up the $8 billion Trump could then use to construct his wall. Where will he get that money?
President Trump plans to sign a compromise border security measure Friday and then announce that he is using executive action, including declaring a national emergency, to spend $8 billion for his border wall, a White House official said https://t.co/Zp2XXok9BX pic.twitter.com/3bkbkNuNVc
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2019
$8 Billion Breakdown
With the passing of the spending bill in Congress, the President has been authorized to utilize $1.375 billion toward a wall at the southern border.
An additional $600 million would come from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund, money which can be accessed by departments such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security.
A total of $2.5 billion would be accessed through the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program.
It’s noteworthy that the White House will use drug programs to help fund a wall that they believe is key in combating a national emergency in the opioid crisis.
Conservative author Ann Coulter has claimed the heroin crisis and the resulting opioid addictions and death are “100 percent a problem of not having a wall on the border.”
Finally, nearly half of the entire amount, $3.5 billion, will come from the Pentagon’s military construction budget through the emergency declaration.
This Won’t Be An Easy Fight
Democrats have vowed to fight funding for a border wall to secure America on two fronts.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has already threatened to file a lawsuit, an effort that could bog down the process by tying it up in courts well into the 2020 campaign season.
Additionally, they’ve introduced legislation that would block the President from using the military or disaster funding.
To combat this, the GOP inserted language into the budget bill to help Trump in the legal battle to declare a national emergency. It clarifies Congress’s delegation of authority to the President to take the steps necessary to secure the southern border.
Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby and the GOP negotiators knew Democrats would challenge the President in federal court so they made sure the bill reiterates specific authority to construct walls.
Josh Blackman, an associate law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said Trump’s legal position in declaring a national emergency is strong.
“Congress basically said you can do it whenever you want whenever you think that national defense is at risk,” Blackman told Politico. “And that’s a very broad and deferential standard.”
Who will ultimately win this battle?