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Trump seeks to justify possible emergency declaration that would bypass Congress on border wall

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President Trump’s main points while speaking in Texas included human trafficking, Mexico paying for the wall, and moving away from calling it a “wall”
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Locked in an impasse with Democrats over his border wall, President Donald Trump is increasingly seeking to justify a potential emergency declaration that would let him dip into billions of dollars for the project.

As the partial government shutdown  is set to become the longest such lapse in history Saturday, Trump remained focused on highlighting the border issue. He planned to host state and local officials at the White House for a roundtable on border security at 2:30 p.m. EST on Friday.

“Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday. “I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!”

An emergency declaration by Trump would be certain to face immediate legal challenges but it could provide the president an exit strategy from the impasse over the government shutdown, which stems from a fight with Democrats over the president’s demands for funding for a border wall. 

White House officials have said for several days that administration attorneys are reviewing the president’s powers under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, and USA TODAY reported that the Pentagon is already drawing up plans to build the wall in case the president signs an emergency order.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks about her oath of office as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Susan Walsh, APVice President Mike Pence, left, White House legislative affairs aide Ja’Ron Smith, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, second row left, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and others, walk down the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office building, on the White House complex, after a meeting with staff members of House and Senate leadership, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Washington. Alex Brandon, APPresident Donald J. Trump holds a news conference beside US Vice President Mike Pence, left,, Republican Representative from Louisiana Steve Scalise (2-R) and House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. President Trump discussed a variety of topics, particularly his meeting with Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders for negotiations on the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. A partial shutdown of the government continues since Congress and Trump failed to strike a deal on border security before a 22 December 22, 2018 funding deadline. Michael Reynolds, EPA-EFESenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is met by reporters as he arrives at the Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown, as Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, are at odds with President Donald Trump on spending for his border wall, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. J. Scott Applewhite, AP

  • An empty entrance line is seen as signs hang on the doors of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture indicating that the museum is closed because of the partial government shutdown in Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2019. A cornered President Donald Trump will hold talks with congressional leaders Wednesday over his demand for a US-Mexico border wall, with his options running out for ending a prolonged partial government shutdown over the impasse. Trump gave a nine-minute prime-time address Tuesday night to make the case for his signature domestic policy idea, but made no concessions to opposition Democrats, who have rejected funding for the project. 1 of 44
  • Members of the US Secret Service Uniformed Division patrol outside of the White House in Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2019, on the 18th day of the partial government shutdown.2 of 44
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is chased by members of the media after he returned to the U.S. Capitol from a meeting at the White House Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House negotiating border security funding and government shutdown, calling it a total waste of time. 3 of 44
  • Passengers wait in a Transportation Security Administration line at JFK airport on Jan. 09, 2019 in New York City. Its been reported that hundreds of TSA screeners and agents have called in sick from their shifts from a number of major airports as the partial government shutdown continues. Employees of the TSA, whose job it is to keep airlines safe, are being forced to work without knowing when their next paycheck is coming.4 of 44
  • U.S. Senate Minoirty Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) returns to the U.S. Capitol from a meeting at the White House January 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. 5 of 44
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, listens as Vice President Mike Pence, right, speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. 6 of 44
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., holds his notes as he talks with reporters following a meeting with Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.7 of 44
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks about her oath of office as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. 8 of 44
  • President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to the media after a Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington.9 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens as President Donald Trump talks to the media after a Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington.10 of 44
  • A Closed sign is seen during a news conference after a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. House Democrats gathered to discuss the Democratic agenda as the partial government shutdown enters day 19.  11 of 44
  • Activists hold a lit FAKE CRISIS sign as they stage a protest outside the White House in response to U.S. President Donald Trumps prime time address to the nation Jan. 8, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump urged Congress to fund $5.7 billion for a border wall.12 of 44
  • The Washington skyline is seen on day 19 of a partial government shutdown on the morning after President Donald Trump used a prime-time TV address from the Oval Office to urge congressional Democrats to relent on their opposition to his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. From left are the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.13 of 44
  • The entrance to Fort Point National Historic Site, a masonry seacoast fortification located on the southern side of the Golden Gate Bride, a popular tourist site is closed in San Francisco, Calif. on Jan. 8, 2019. 14 of 44
  • Members of American Legion Post 416 watch President Donald Trump speak on Jan. 8, 2019 in Encinitas, California.  The president spoke in his first prime-time address from the Oval Office in an effort to build support for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.  15 of 44
  • People walk past a sign announcing that New York funds are keeping the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open for visitors on Jan. 5, 2019, in New York, as the US government shutdown enters its third week. 16 of 44
  • Vice President Mike Pence, left, White House legislative affairs aide Ja'Ron Smith, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, second row left, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and others, walk down the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office building, on the White House complex, after a meeting with staff members of House and Senate leadership, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Washington.17 of 44
  • The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum is closed during the partial government shutdown, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 in Washington.18 of 44
  • Workmen from the commercial cleanup company 1-800-GOT-JUNK clean up trash on The Ellipse, south of the White House, in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. As the company donates its resources to clean up, US President Donald J. Trump is scheduled to meet at the White House with congressional leadership in hopes of ending the partial government shutdown now in its 12th day.  19 of 44
  • Emma James, right, and co-worker Vincent Cuenca demonstrate outside the Federal Center on Goodfellow Boulevard, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 in St. Louis.  James is a processor in the multifamily housing division. Cuenta processes payments to FEMA contractors. 20 of 44
  • President Donald J. Trump holds a news conference beside US Vice President Mike Pence, left,, Republican Representative from Louisiana Steve Scalise (2-R) and House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. President Trump discussed a variety of topics, particularly his meeting with Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders for negotiations on the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. A partial shutdown of the government continues since Congress and Trump failed to strike a deal on border security before a 22 December 22, 2018 funding deadline. 21 of 44
  • Volunteer Alexandra Degen cleans a restroom at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4, 2019 in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Volunteers with 'Friends of Joshua Tree National Park' have been cleaning bathrooms and trash at the park as the park is drastically understaffed during the partial government shutdown. Campgrounds and some roads have been closed at the park due to safety concerns. 22 of 44
  • Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi returns to the US Capitol after a meeting with US President Donald Trump over the ongoing partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. Though Democrats called the meeting 'contentious,' President Trump said the meeting was 'productive'. 23 of 44
  • Signs announce the visitor center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley, Iowa, is closed, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, as the partial government shutdown continues. 24 of 44
  • Brandon Torres, center, the Branch Chief of Emergency Services at Grand Canyon National Park, directs guests in the park on Jan. 4, 2019. 25 of 44
  • A sign blocks a snowed in walk way at Grand Canyon National Park on Jan. 4, 2019. The park was staffed at minimum capacity due to the government shutdown but retained much of its services due to an executive order issued by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to run the park with state funds in the event of a shutdown.26 of 44
  • The Capitol building is visible as a man throws garbage away during a partial government shutdown on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Trash cans on the Mall are not being emptied during the shutdown.27 of 44
  • A sign is posted on a fence near an entrance to the Bunker Hill Monument, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, in Boston. The historic site, erected to commemorate the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill, and run by the National Park Service, was closed Monday due to a partial federal government shutdown. The federal government is expected to remain partially closed past Christmas Day in a protracted standoff over President Donald Trump's demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico.28 of 44
  • The empty U.S. Capitol Rotunda is seen in Washington during a partial government shutdown Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. Both sides in the long-running fight over funding President Donald Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall appear to have moved toward each other, but a shutdown of one-fourth of the federal government entered Christmas without a clear resolution in sight. 29 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, center, is surrounded by reporters after leaving the Senate chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. 30 of 44
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is met by reporters as he arrives at the Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown, as Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, are at odds with President Donald Trump on spending for his border wall, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. 31 of 44
  • Jamie Parrish, from Minneapolis, takes a selfie in front of the closed sign at the National Archives, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 in Washington. The House and Senate are gaveling back in for a rare weekend session amid a partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump's demand for billions of dollars for a border wall. 32 of 44
  • A sign alerts visitors to the closure of the White House Visitor Center on the first day of a partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. 33 of 44
  • The US Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. Earlier in the week, President Trump rejected a Senate-passed continuing resolution to fund the federal government because it did not include money for his border wall. Though President Trump said he was 'proud' to shut the government down, lawmakers will meet again today to negotiate a way around the stalemate.34 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell, center, is followed by members of the news media as he walks from the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Dec. 21, 2018. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Feb. 8, 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.35 of 44
  • Vice President Mike Pence, right, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, center, and Senior Advisor to US President Donald J. Trump, Jared Kushner, left, walk from the House of Representatives to the Senate at the US Capitol on Friday.36 of 44
  • Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (C) returns to his office after votes in the U.S. Capitol, Friday. The U.S. Senate considered a budget bill passed Thursday by the House of Representatives that would fund the federal government and includes more than $500 million for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate is unlikely to pass the bill with the wall funding, moving the government closer to a partial shut down just days before the Christmas holiday.37 of 44
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., leave after talking to reporters as a revised spending bill is introduced in the House that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, on Dec. 20, 2018.38 of 44
  • Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (C) speak to the media, Thursday, as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new budget resolution to avert a government shutdown.39 of 44
  • Republican Majority Whip from California Kevin McCarthy (C) leaves the Capitol, Thursday, for the White House to negotiate a budget vote to avert a government shutdown in the US Capitol. The Senate passed a continuing resolution on Wednesday, to keep the government open until February 2019. Others are not identified members of the media.40 of 44
  • Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Republican Richard Shelby (C) speaks to members of the news media shortly before leaving to attend a meeting at the White House held by US President Donald J. Trump, on Capitol Hill, Friday. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through 08 February 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.41 of 44
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) makes a statement to the press after a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday.42 of 44
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., center, accompanied by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center right, speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump on border security.43 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell arrives at the Senate Carriage entrance upon returning from the White House where he attended a meeting held by President Donald J. Trump, on Friday. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through February 8, 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.44 of 44

Today should be payday for thousands of government workers. But the shutdown means they’re not getting paid

More: President Trump mocks CNN’s Jim Acosta over Twitter video at border wall

“It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier,” Graham, usually a Trump ally, said in a statement. “I hope it works.”

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  • Tom Miller, Covington citzen and father of a government employee, stands and chants with protestors of the government shutdow.  Government employees, National Treasury  Employee Unions members and citizens gather in Covington, KY outside of the IRS building to protest the government shutdown on Jan, 10, 2019.1 of 18
  • Gregory Simpkins, president of AFGE local 778 and Bertrice Sanders, Social Security Administration Roseville office employee protest the government shutdown outside of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit, Jan. 10, 2019.2 of 18
  • Social worker, Pam Harrison holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building on in Ogden, Utah. Jan 19, 2019.3 of 18
  • Internal Revenue Service worker Christine Helquist looks on during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building in Ogden, Utah, JAn. 10, 2019.4 of 18
  • Andrew Minton holds a sign featuring U.S. Forest Service icon Smokey Bear saying Only you can prevent forest fires. No seriously, I've been furloughed at an organized rally to protest the federal government shutdown in Washington D.C. Jan. 8, 2019.5 of 18
  • Government employees, National Treasury  Employee Unions members and citizens gather in Covington, KY outside of the IRS building to protest the government shutdown, Jan, 10, 2019.6 of 18
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D, MD) speaks at a rally organized to protest the federal government shutdown in Washington D.C. Jan. 10, 2019.7 of 18
  • Lutfiyya Dean holds a sign reading we want to work at a rally protesting the federal government shutdown on Jan. 10, 2019.8 of 18
  • Federal workers Rachel Schoenian, Polly Fairfield and Jenna Larkin hold signs at a rally protesting the federal government shutdown in Washington, DA. Jan. 10, 2019.9 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.10 of 18
  • Kathryn Gilson and Sean Ghazala furloughed federal employees who work for the National Park Service and are facing missing their first paychecks  during a press conference with union leaders and immigration advocates in Staten Island, New York, jan, 10, 2019.11 of 18
  • Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza,  in Chicago, Jan. 10, 2019.12 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.13 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.14 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.15 of 18
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson, joins government workers during a rally at Federal Plaza, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago. The partial government shutdown continues to drag on with hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job or working without pay as the border wall fight persists.16 of 18
  • Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago.17 of 18
  • Anthony Jernigan, a Coast Guard environmental protection specialist, held a sign that said A wall, a wall! Our country for a wall!?! in Washington, D.C. on Thursday as federal workers rallied for their jobs.18 of 18

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation, said he believed Congress should put aside money for the wall but added that “I do think it’s an emergency, and if the president declares that, then we’ll go from there.”

Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the southern border would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to design barriers and allow contracts to build them. Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, who commands the corps, accompanied Trump on his trip Thursday to tour the border in Texas.

Some lawmakers attacked the plan, noting that normal Army Corps of Engineers projects involve flood control and other forms of disaster relief.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called in on the Trump administration to disavow “plans to raid disaster recovery funds to pay for his absurd border wall … These funds were intended by Congress to be used for real emergencies and to help millions recover from hurricanes and other disasters.”

Federal law gives presidents wide latitude to declare an emergency but is far more restrictive about the powers the White House can invoke once an emergency is declared. One provision available to Trump allows a president to redirect defense money that had been set aside for other purposes.

Some Democrats had threatened to sue Trump over the approach, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was more circumspect on Thursday.

“If and when the president does that, you’ll find out how we will react,” the California Democrat said.

“I think the president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power,” she said. “Let’s see what he does.”

 

Article source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/591634956/0/usatodaycomwashington-topstories~Trump-seeks-to-justify-possible-emergency-declaration-that-would-bypass-Congress-on-border-wall/