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Trump to sign border bill, declare emergency for wall funds

Washington: President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to avert another government shutdown, but also declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for his promised US-Mexico border wall, a White House spokeswoman said.

In an attempt to bypass Congress to get money that lawmakers have so far denied him for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump appeared headed toward triggering a swift court challenge from Democrats on constitutional grounds.

 

The top Democrat in Congress immediately denounced the president’s move. Asked by reporters whether she would file a legal challenge to the emergency declaration, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I may, that’s an option.”

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” she said in a statement.

The bipartisan compromise federal spending legislation expected to arrive soon on Trump’s desk after being voted on in the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House would provide more than $300 billion to fund the Department of Homeland Security and a range of other agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Funding for those agencies is due to expire on Friday, which would trigger another partial federal shutdown on Saturday morning if Congress and Trump do not act quickly.
A source familiar with the situation said that the White House had identified $2.7 billion in funds previously provided by Congress that could be redirected to barrier funding as part of a national emergency.

The source said White House lawyers had vetted the figures and believed they would withstand a legal challenge. Under the Constitution, Congress holds the national purse strings and makes major decisions on spending taxpayer money.

The Trump administration has suggested that it could use national emergency powers to redirect money already committed by Congress for other purposes toward paying for Trump’s wall.