Trump declares emergency to fund Mexico border wall

Trump declares emergency  to fund Mexico border wall
Donald Trump (File)
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/15/2019 11:26:06 AM IST

US President Donald Trump on Friday formally declared a national emergency to bankroll his border wall by bypassing Congress and averting a second bruising government shutdown.
But the move set up a fresh round of clashes with Congress over the constitutionality of his actions and threatened to divide his own party.
His decision to sign a US$333 billion (S$453 billion) border security and spending Bill to keep the government open was announced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor on Thursday and confirmed by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Soon after, the Senate and House passed the legislation, which includes US$1.37 billion for new fencing along parts of the United States-Mexico border – about a quarter of the US$5.7 billion Mr Trump sought for a concrete wall or steel barriers.
Mr Trump then signed off on the legislation on Friday morning.
In a televised announcement, Mr Trump said he was signing the declaration to protect the US from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the southwestern border from Mexico.
The declaration will enable Mr Trump to divert US$3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, officials said.
Mr Trump will also use budgetary discretion to tap US$2.5 billion from counter-narcotics programmes and US$600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.
Added with the US$1.375 billion authorised for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress, Mr Trump would then have about US$8 billion in all for the wall.
Democrat leaders signalled that they would move to block Mr Trump on his declaration, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling reporters on Thursday they were considering filing a legal challenge.
The Democrats, who control the House, also said they would pass a resolution to end the national emergency, which would force the Republican-controlled Senate to vote on whether to do so. The move would put Republican senators in a bind by forcing them to choose between publicly backing a controversial decision and losing moderate votes at the ballot box while setting a risky precedent, and opposing a President from their party at the cost of his supporters’ ire.
Republicans, who had spent the past few weeks advising against declaring an emergency, were publicly divided.
Some publicly fretted that the move undermined Congress by going over its head and veered towards presidential overreach. Others backed the President.
“I’m not in favour of operating government by national emergency,” said Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. “We have a government that has a Constitution, that has a division of power, and revenue raising and spending power was given to Congress.”
National emergencies are neither unusual nor always controversial in US politics, and 58 have been declared by presidents since 1976.
Immediate past president Barack Obama declared 13, and since assuming office, Mr Trump has declared three international affairs-related emergencies which slapped sanctions on foreign actors from Myanmar, Russia and Nicaragua.

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