Trump to Sign Spending Bill, Declare National Emergency
The White House says President Donald Trump will deliver remarks from the Rose Garden Friday morning "on the national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border."
Trump plans to declare a national emergency so he can bypass Congress and get the money to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The House and Senate passed the border security bill late Thursday, funding the government and avoiding another shutdown. Trump has until midnight Friday to sign the bill and the White House said Thursday that he will do so.
The bill gives him only $1.3 billion for a barrier along just 90 kilometers of the border — much less than the $5.7 billion he wanted to begin building 322 kilometers of wall.
But declaring a national emergency gives Trump the authority to move money from elsewhere in the federal budget and use it for a wall.
Democrats will challenge move
If the president does declare an emergency, Democrats and others are sure to challenge him in court — a move that could put off actual construction for years.
"Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency, and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his promise to have Mexico pay for his wall," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
They say a wall would be ineffective against illegal immigration and expensive. Above all, many Democrats say there is no emergency at the border, accusing Trump of manufacturing one.
Republicans have misgivings too
Some of the president's Republican allies in Congress also have misgivings about an emergency declaration.
A congressional aide says the president could dip into $21 billion in unused military construction funds for building a wall. But the aide says that money must be used in support of the armed forces and says it is unclear whether building a wall meets that condition.
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters earlier this week that he told Trump not to use the $21 billion for a wall.
The president contends there is a crisis along the U.S.-Mexican border. He says only a wall can stop illegal immigration and the crime, drugs and violent gangs that go with it.
"President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action, including a national emergency, to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Thursday. "The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border and secure our great country."
He made the promise to build a wall that Mexico would pay for the center of his presidential campaign.
Negotiators from both sides put together the government spending bill that includes barriers along the border, technology upgrades, more screening at entry points, and more customs officers and humanitarian aid.
Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin, and reporter Ken Schwartz contributed to this story.