US President Donald Trump will sign a border security and federal spending bill to avert another government shutdown but also will declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for his promised US-Mexico border wall, the White House said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
The bipartisan legislation, passed by the Republican-led Senate on Thursday before going to the Democratic-led House of Representatives for final congressional approval, denied Trump the funds he had demanded for a border wall, one of his central 2016 campaign pledges.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump will declare an emergency. Trump’s administration has suggested he could use national emergency powers to redirect money already committed by Congress for other purposes toward paying for his wall.
“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,” said Sanders, according to Reuters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said he will support Trump on an emergency declaration, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the president’s move. Asked by reporters if she would file a legal challenge to an emergency declaration, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I may, that’s an option.”
Moving to an emergency declaration is a next step that Trump has been exploring for weeks.
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.
The Senate passed the federal spending legislation by a margin of 83-16. The House was expected to take it up later on Thursday. The measure would provide more than $300 billion to fund the Department of Homeland Security and a range of other agencies through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
The legislation includes $1.37 billion in new money to help build 55 miles (88.5 km) of new physical border barriers. That is the same level of funding Congress appropriated for border security measures last year, including barriers but not concrete walls.
The previous shutdown lasted for 35 days and began when Congress refused to approve $5.7 billion to help build a portion of the wall.
The shutdown ended on January 25 when the sides reached a deal for government to reopen for three weeks until February 15 while negotiations between Republicans and Democrats continue in an attempt to reach an agreement on border security.