President Declares National Emergency at the Southern Border

The border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.
( Wyatt Bechtel )

President Trump ignited a new firestorm after signing a spending bill to keep the government open. He announced he's declaring a national emergency so he can finish building the southern border wall.  The move allows him to bypass Congress to spend more money to erect barriers on the border.  

In an effort to avoid another government shutdown, Congress gave the President about $1.4 billion. The President signed that plan on Friday, but the spending deal is well below the $5.7 billion dollars the President insisted was needed for the wall. 

Democrats say they will fight the emergency declaration in Congress and in the courts. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: "The President's unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution..."

Already several state attorney's general are promising their own lawsuits. The President said he expects legal challenges.

The spending legislation signed Friday also keeps parts of the government from shutting down by providing $333 billion to finance several Cabinet agencies funding through September. 

One of them is the USDA. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a statement: "I am pleased that Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, funding for USDA for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019. We will be moving at full speed on all of our responsibilities, making good on our motto by doing right and feeding everyone. Since Congress did not act to protect our southern border, the President has also declared a national emergency, which helps him fulfill a clear promise to protect our national security interests. He is exercising his Constitutional authority, as presidents from both parties have done many times in the past.

"Even with the passage of the appropriations bill, Congress still has unfinished business in areas of great concern for USDA and the customers we serve. Farmers and ranchers were battered last year by a series of monumental storms, robbing them of their livelihoods and inflicting damage well beyond the financial risks they normally assume in their operations. These are the men and women who dedicate their lives to feeding, fueling, and clothing this nation, and we cannot turn our backs on them when they need assistance. Just as importantly, another devastating wildfire season left our Forest Service badly in need of replenished funds to fight fires, remove excess fuels, and conduct necessary forest management. Without these resources, we risk falling behind in forest maintenance and inviting even more severe seasons in the future. I will continue to work with the President and the Congress to address these critical issues."

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