President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday as a means to circumvent Congress and build additional border barriers. He is seeking to secure about $6.5 billion more in funding than Congress has approved.
Trump also plans to sign spending legislation to avert a government shutdown, his acting chief of staff said.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies have called a national emergency ill advised, and Democrats immediately called the move unconstitutional on Friday. The declaration is expected to face an array of legal challenges.
Friday’s announcement follows passage of a 1,169-page spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fences along the border in Texas, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for 234 miles of steel walls.
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Trump wrapped up a Rose Garden news conference that stretched about 50 minutes without saying he would sign the spending bill. Speaking to reporters earlier, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump intends to sign the spending bill Friday or possibly Saturday.
In a statement issued as Trump continued to speak in the Rose Garden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called Trump’s emergency declaration “unlawful.”
“The president’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our founders enshrined in the Constitution,” the two Democratic leaders said. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”
“The president is not above the law,” Pelosi and Schumer added. “The Congress cannot let the president shred the Constitution.”