As the shutdown continues into its third week and Democrats dig their heels into the dirt, the Trump administration is reportedly looking into what the president can do without congressional approval. Knowing that the immigration crisis at the border is going to keep getting worse until the country takes serious measures to secure the nation and construct the wall, lawyers from the White House and several executive agencies are researching whether or not President Trump can declare a national emergency that would allow troops to head to the border and allocate Pentagon resources and budget towards building the wall.
One of the sources, a senior administration official, said the White House has kept this option on the table for some time, but is now considering it more seriously.
“Depending on the severity of crisis, it’s always been an option. Now that things are getting worse, we are looking at how that could be operationalized and used to confront the crisis,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the talks are ongoing and will continue over the weekend as details are worked out.
ABC News first reported that the White House was considering declaring a national emergency to build the wall.
Trump said at a press briefing Friday he was considering declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress.
“We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” Trump said at the press briefing in the Rose Garden.
The president repeated that sentiment on Sunday in talks with reporters.
Trump is asking for the reasonable sum of $5.6 billion from Congress to go towards the construction of a southern border wall. Democrats have thus far only agreed to earmark $1.3 billion for the “border security” portion of the spending bill. Despite meeting for talks on several occasions, neither side appears willing to give an inch. In a private meeting with congressional leaders last week, Trump reportedly told Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer that he was prepared to keep the government partially shut down for “months or even years” if that’s what it takes.
In a tweet on Friday, CBS reporter Steven Portnoy noted that there is a “section of federal law that would permit the president to use unobligated military construction funds for projects ‘not otherwise authorized by law’ during a war or declared national emergency,” and that President George W. Bush actually used that option shortly after 9/11 for unknown purposes.
If this is an option available to the president, we see no reason why he shouldn’t take advantage of it. Yes, this is about political gamesmanship to a degree, but the stakes are very real. The need for serious border security is absolutely essential, and Trump’s ability to see that is a large part of why he got elected in the first place. We’re not crazy about the concept of a president going around Congress to get things done, but if there’s a legitimate, lawful way to do it, then we’re on board.