President Donald Trump bypassed Congress today by declaring a national emergency in order to secure billions of dollars in funding for a wall along the Southern border of the United States. Even Trump, though, admits that this unusual and potentially unconstitutional declaration was unnecessary.
“I could build the wall over a longer period of time,” he said in remarks at the White House Rose Garden. “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
The statement was captured in a video clip posted on Twitter by BuzzFeed’s David Mack.
In a comment that you can bet is going to be cited in lawsuits against this national emergency, Trump admits, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” pic.twitter.com/FD0m1aHQcZ
— David Mack (@davidmackau) February 15, 2019
Trump also acknowledged that the action would draw lawsuits. The controversial executive order comes after Congress passed a bill to prevent a second government shutdown in two months. (The first shutdown sent Trump’s approval ratings to their lowest point.) That spending bill provides just under $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new fencing along the border. While Trump indicated that he would sign the bill, it was a begrudging acquiescence because it limited the type and length of barrier that could be built.
Now, by declaring a national emergency, Trump can cull money from a variety of federal accounts, including the $1.4 billion in the appropriations bill to build whatever kind of barrier he wants. According to NBC News, that could mean around $8 billion for the wall, which Mexico or maybe El Chapo was supposed to pay for.
Of course, it has to pass legal muster, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already vowed to fight the action.
“It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law. This is not an emergency, and the president’s fearmongering doesn’t make it one,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. “He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”