Well, that didn’t take long. Less than a week after President Donald Trump announced that he would sign a deeply flawed bill on border security and declare a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border, Democrats in Congress have taken their first step toward preventing the construction of the barrier.
A gaggle of Democratic lawmakers — many running for president in 2020 — proposed a bill that would make it more difficult for the president to build the wall. But their arguments against Trump’s declaration will likely fall flat.
…he needs to work around a recalcitrant Congress to augment the budget for the wall.
Democratic Bill Challenges Emergency Declaration
Democrats in Congress recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the president from using disaster relief funds for the wall. Were the proposed legislation passed, it would prohibit the White House from tapping into the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Homeland Security.
This bill is a response to the president’s announcement that he will use a national emergency order to gain the rest of the wall funding required. The law that Trump signed provides only $1.37 billion, which means that he needs to work around a recalcitrant Congress to augment the budget for the wall.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is vying for the Democratic nomination for president, was among the lawmakers who introduced the legislation. “I’m proud to introduce this bill today to ensure that funds intended for victims of natural disasters do not go toward a wall that Congress won’t fund and people on the border don’t even want,” she said in a recent statement. “This bill will stand up for Congress’ power of the purse and help California families affected by recent natural disasters begin the process of recovery.”
How Will Trump Fund the Wall?
The Democrats oppose Trump’s plan to circumvent Congress on the grounds that he will use money for disaster relief efforts, but the reality is that the president does not plan to take this type of action. According to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump does not intend to appropriate hurricane relief money designated for Texas and Puerto Rico.
Mulvaney stated that the president would take $600 million in Treasury forfeiture funds and $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense. He will also use $3.6 billion allocated for military construction projects. In total, the White House will gather about $6 billion in addition to the $1.37 billion the recently signed legislation provides.
While the bill likely will pass in the Democratic-controlled House, it is not clear if the GOP-controlled Senate will support the proposal. A few Republican lawmakers have opposed Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency, but a majority have indicated that they will back the president’s play. Even if the bill fails, the Democrats will pursue other options. So far, 16 states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to impede efforts to construct the border wall. The battle over the barrier is in full swing, and it is unlikely to end anytime soon.