President Donald Trump gave his strongest indication yet Friday that he will soon declare a state of emergency, bypassing the need for congressional approval to fund a controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump hinted in remarks at a White House meeting on cross-border trafficking that a declaration — which would further heat the political temperature around the issue — could even come in his State of the Union speech to Congress next Tuesday.
“Well, I’m saying listen closely to the State of the Union, I think you’ll find it very exciting,” Trump said.
“I’m certainly thinking about it,” he said of declaring the emergency. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that.”
Pres Trump says he has "very strong legal standing" to declare a national emergency for the purpose of building a southern border wall. Tells reporters they'll see what he says in his State of the Union Address next week – and what action he takes right after. pic.twitter.com/mtzY0lSFTM
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 1, 2019
Why This Matters
Trump’s threat comes well before the expiration of a February 15 deadline that he set for Congress to agree on funding for wall construction. But on Thursday he described negotiations with opposition Democrats “a waste of time.”
The president says that existing sections of walls should be extended along the border to stop what he describes as an uncontrolled invasion of criminals.
Democrats, who control the lower house, have repeatedly rejected Trump’s funding demands, saying that he has made the wall project a political crusade to demonize immigrants and to satisfy his base.
He previously tried to pressure Congress into backing his idea by refusing to sign off on budgets for swaths of the federal government, leading to a five-week shutdown of some 800,000 government jobs.
By declaring a national emergency on the border, Trump would, in theory, be able to tap unrelated funding to use wall construction. However, he would almost certainly face immediate court challenges, with Democrats arguing that there is no real emergency on the frontier.
More on the Subject
Several times during the 35-day government shutdown, Trump has threatened to declare a “national emergency” on the nation’s southern border so that he could reallocate Defense Department funds to build a wall. Besides the fact that it would be hard to justify the situation as a national emergency, there are no statutory or constitutional grounds for the reallocation of funding under these conditions, Daniel Franklin, Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University, says.