Trump Warns He May Declare National Emergency to Secure Border-Wall Funding

January 6, 2019 Updated: January 6, 2019

President Donald Trump said Jan. 6 he is considering whether to declare a national emergency in order to obtain funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall.

Trump told reporters that, depending on ongoing discussions with the Democrats to end the partial government shutdown, he could take action very soon. A national emergency declaration could bypass congressional approval as the shutdown—now in its 16th day—forges ahead.

The move would allow the president to obtain military funding and resources to build the wall.

“I may declare a national emergency, dependent on what’s going to happen over the next few days,” Trump told reporters on his way to meetings with senior White House staff at Camp David.

Vice President Mike Pence had planned to meet with congressional leadership staff on Jan. 6, but Trump said any developments related to his $5.6 billion funding request for the wall were likely to happen in the coming days.

“I don’t expect anything to happen at that meeting, nor does the vice president but I think we’re going to have some very serious talks come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” Trump told reporters. “We have to have border security. If we don’t have border security, we are going to be crime-ridden and it’s going to get worse and worse.”

Later in the afternoon, Trump told reporters, “We’re looking at a national emergency because we have a national emergency.”

Democrats refuse to give in to Trump’s requested amount, committing only to their original offer of $1.3 billion for border-security purposes that doesn’t include money for a wall.

The president described the situation at the border with Mexico as a “crisis.” He said drugs, victims of human trafficking, criminals, and gang members are continuing to cross the border onto U.S. soil. The proposed wall is reportedly going to be made from steel, which Trump told reporters would be “less obtrusive” and “stronger.” Meanwhile, on Twitter, Trump described the wall as a steel barrier that will be a “good solution and made in the U.S.A.”

Trump’s recent remarks about a possible emergency declaration appear to reiterate remarks he made days ago at a Jan. 4 open press conference in the Rose Garden. At that meeting, he made similar assertions on the move and how it was another viable option to get the wall built quickly.

“We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” Trump told reporters. “I may do it … build it very quickly and it’s another way of doing it.”

The president said he first hopes to secure funding through a negotiated process.

“I never threaten anybody but I am allowed to do that, yes,” Trump said.

Legality Questioned

Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) confirmed that Trump does have the authority to call a national emergency on the grounds of border security.

However, such a move could face legal challenges in court.

“There is a provision in law that says the president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times but primarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Smith told ABC. “In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, ‘Where is the emergency?'”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t provide any additional details on such a declaration or the timeline of such a move. However, she said they are looking at all different options.

“As we’ve said for the past several weeks, we’re looking and exploring every option available that the president has,” she told Fox News. “Whatever action he takes will certainly be lawful, and we’re looking at every option we can.”

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