Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to declare a national emergency along the US-Mexico border.
While the President’s advisers have been divided on the issue, the White House is moving forward with plans to bypass Congress and declare a national emergency over the issue of funding for the wall to keep immigrants out of the country, CNN reports.
“The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency,” a draft of a proclamation reads.
“Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 US C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States,” it adds.
An official told the network that the administration is considering pulling $US3 billion in Pentagon civil-works funds and a further $US3.6 billion in military-construction funds.
Additional funds would come from treasury forfeitures and the Department of Homeland Security.
Earlier today, the Senate voted down two bills that would end the partial government shutdown, which has entered its 34th day.
The Republican-backed bill would have included $US5.7 billion in funding for the wall and limited protections for certain immigrants.
The second, Democrat-backed bill would have opened the government again without granting Mr Trump the wall funding.
In response to the rejections, Mr Trump said he would support a “reasonable” solution brokered by Senate leaders, but would otherwise resort to “other alternatives if I have to”.
DEMOCRATS STAND FIRM AGAINST TRUMP’S REQUEST
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rejecting the idea of providing “some big down payment” for Mr Trump’s border wall as part of a solution to the partial government shutdown.
Ms Pelosi spoke after Mr Trump suggested a “reasonable” instalment on such a barrier might be a way to solve the impasse. She suggested the idea was not a serious one.
She told reporters: “I hope that doesn’t mean some big down payment. That is not a reasonable agreement between the senators.”
Asked whether she knows the size of a down payment that Mr Trump might find reasonable, she replied, “I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about”.
Earlier, Mr Trump made the decision to postpone his State of the Union address following pressure from Ms Pelosi, prompting speculation over whether he might be willing to make a deal to reopen the government.
“Well, it’s really her choice,” he said of Ms Pelosi, acknowledging she had the upper hand when it came to scheduling the traditional presidential address to Congress.
“I would have done it in a different location but I think that would be very disrespectful to the State of the Union,” Mr Trump added. “I could have gone to a big auditorium and gotten 25,000 people in one day and you’ve been there many times. But I think that would be very disrespectful to the State of the Union.”
He went so far as to praise Ms Pelosi’s move as “actually reasonable” — although he had blasted her position just a day earlier.
CAN TRUMP EVEN DECLARE A NATIONAL EMERGENCY?
Mr Trump has threatened to call a national emergency in recent weeks.
The President has the power to declare such an emergency, but by definition, it refers to any occasion in which “federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States”.
With Democrats controlling the Lower House now, the move would provide some fierce reaction from Mr Trump’s opponents, which could bring about a constitutional crisis.
Top Democrats have raised doubts whether the President can even do this without facing legal and political challenges.
Adam Schiff, a Democratic leader on Capitol Hill, said the idea was “a non-starter”.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union earlier this month, the California representative said: “If Harry Truman couldn’t nationalise the steel industry during wartime, this President doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border. So that’s a non-starter.”
Likewise, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin warned the President that he would face legal challenges.
“I don’t know what he’s basing this on, but he’s faced so many lawsuits when he ignores the law and ignores tradition and precedent, and just goes forward without any concern,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation overnight.
“He’ll face a challenge, I’m sure, if he oversteps what the law requires when it comes to his responsibility as commander-in-chief.”
House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith said the executive power has been used to build military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, but would likely be “wide open” to a court challenge for the wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Where is the emergency?” the Washington Democrat said on ABC’s This Week.
Some Republicans have also indicated they’d rather Mr Trump didn’t do so.