Trump set to declare border emergency,
sign shutdown-averting bill
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[February 15, 2019]
By Richard Cowan and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump was poised on Friday to declare a national emergency at the
U.S.-Mexico border, a move that Democrats vowed to challenge as an
unconstitutional attempt to fund his proposed border wall without
approval from Congress.
Trump was also expected to sign a bipartisan government spending bill
approved by Congress on Thursday that would prevent another federal
shutdown by funding several agencies that otherwise would have closed on
The bill, lacking any money for his wall, is a defeat for Trump in
Congress, where his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding yielded no
result, other than a record-long 35-day December-January partial
government shutdown that damaged the U.S. economy and his poll numbers.
Reorienting his wall-funding quest toward a legally uncertain strategy
based on declaring a national emergency could plunge Trump into a
lengthy battle with Democrats and divide his fellow Republicans.
Even before the White House said on Thursday that Trump would declare an
emergency, Republican senators, although sympathetic to his view that
the southern border is in crisis, were skeptical of an emergency
declaration meant to shift funds to the wall from other commitments set
"No crisis justifies violating the Constitution," Republican Senator
Marco Rubio said on Twitter on Thursday.
Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters on Capitol Hill he had
concerns about an emergency declaration. He said it "would not be a
practical solution, because there would be a lawsuit filed immediately
and the money would be presumably balled up, associated with that
Some Republicans were more supportive of Trump's tactic. "Iím not
uncomfortable. I think the presidentís probably on pretty solid ground,"
said Republican Senator Richard Shelby.
Fifteen Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate introduced
legislation to prevent the transfer of funds from accounts Trump likely
would target to pay for his wall.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump listens next to Commerce Secretary Wilbur
Ross during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington,
U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A senior White House official said the administration had found
nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including $600 million
from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from a
Defense Department drug interdiction fund and $3.5 billion from a
military construction budget.
The funds would cover just part of the estimated $23 billion cost of
the wall promised by Trump along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border
The Senate Democrats' bill also would stop Trump from using
appropriated money to acquire lands to build the wall unless
specifically authorized by Congress.
'PHONY NATIONAL EMERGENCY'
Trump says the wall is needed to curb illegal immigrants and illicit
drugs streaming across the southern border, despite statistics that
show illegal immigration there is at a 20-year low and that many
drug shipments are likely smuggled through legal ports of entry.
Democratic Representative David Price urged lawmakers on the House
floor to block Trump's "phony national emergency."
Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee
in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, said he would
back a joint resolution to terminate the presidentís emergency
declaration under the National Emergencies Act, and pursue "all
other available legal options."
On Thursday evening, the Senate passed the government funding bill
by a vote of 83-16, and the House by 300-128, with 86 House
Republicans voting in favor.
Trump was expected to sign it and declare an emergency, then fly to
his private golf club in Florida for a holiday weekend break.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Additional reporting
by Steve Holland, Susan Cornwell, Makini Brice and Eric Beech;
Writing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)
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