The White House announced on Thursday that President Donald Trump will sign into law the long sought-after budget deal between congressional Democrats and Republicans, ensuring that the federal government will stay funded and preventing another devastating shutdown. At the same time, Trump announced he would also follow through on his threat to declare a national emergency in order to allocate non-congressionally approved money to start construction on the border wall, after the budget deal gave him just a fraction of the $5.7 billion he demanded for border security.
Trump’s move was telegraphed ahead of time by GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, who announced from the Senate floor that he’d spoken with the president, who’d assured him that he would sign the bill he’d publicly waffled on just days before. McConnell also stated that Trump would use the opportunity to declare his national emergency.
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By declaring a national emergency—in spite of having waited months to do so, thereby undercutting the “emergency” part of his action—Trump has virtually guaranteed a protracted battle in the courts over whether he’s allowed to shuffle money from other parts of the government to fund something not approved by Congress. While national emergencies can be overturned by Congress, to do so would require a joint resolution from Congress—something not likely to happen given the degree to which the GOP remains deferential to the president.
Still, some Republicans have warned that by declaring a national emergency now, Trump risks opening up a pandora’s box of trouble down the road—beyond any court challenge to the emergency itself.
“I think most Republicans will tell you that we really would like to find a way to avoid that type of a discussion if at all possible because this goes beyond just this president,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., told CNN recently. “This goes on to future presidents and what they might decide to declare an emergency for.”
Update, 4:45 p.m. ET: The Senate has officially passed the spending bill by an overwhelming margin.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also condemned the national emergency decision in a statement.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is made available.