It was probably inevitable.
After nearly two months of negotiations that were never not doomed, President Trump is set to declare a national emergency so that he can build a southern border wall without congressional approval. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) relayed the news Thursday afternoon, telling colleagues on the Senate floor that while the president would agree to a spending bill that includes $1.375 billion for border fencing, he will also invoke his executive privilege to siphon funding from other government programs so that construction can begin on the most expensive vanity project in American history.
.@senatemajldr: "I've just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump…he's prepared to sign the bill. He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time." pic.twitter.com/iukGKjmoZ8
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 14, 2019
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the news shortly after McConnell’s announcement.
Statement on Government Funding Bill: pic.twitter.com/DrNv9D4rEi
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 14, 2019
Though the Constitution states that only Congress has the power to appropriate funding, it also gives the president authority to exercise his will in the event of a national emergency. Trump teased the idea of declaring one throughout the record 35-day government shutdown that spanned most of January, but he stopped short of it as lawmakers from both parties decried taking such extreme action. “We have a government that has a constitution that has a division of power, and revenue raising and spending power was given to Congress,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), according to the New York Times.
Democrats have been mulling how to handle the potential of a potential national emergency declaration, and are expected to challenge the action in court.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said after learning of the declaration Thursday afternoon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has been become the face of the party’s opposition to Trump’s demands for a wall, wasn’t so succinct, calling the declaration an “end run around Congress” while warning Republicans that it sets a precedent for a Democratic president to declare an emergency in the future.
“If the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think what a president with different values can present to the American people,” she said. “You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today, the one-year of the manifestation of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that an emergency? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well. The precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.”
"You want to talk about a national emergency?" Speaker Pelosi says. "Let's talk about today, the one-year anniversary" of the Parkland shooting.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 14, 2019
“Of course, we will respond accordingly,” Pelosi added.