WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump, repeating his claim that “walls work,” announced on Friday that he will declare a national emergency in order to build a barrier on the US-Mexico border without funding from Congress.
“I’m going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said, repeating his claim that a wall is needed to stop an “invasion” of drugs, gangs, human traffickers and undocumented migrants over the US border with Mexico.
“Everyone knows that walls work,” said Trump, whose declaration will enable him to reprogramme other federal funds towards the contested wall project.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s Democratic nemesis in Congress, said declaring such a national emergency would be “a lawless act (and) a gross abuse of the power of the presidency.”
Members of her caucus were “reviewing our options” about how to respond to Trump’s move, she told reporters.
“I’m not advocating for any president doing an end run around Congress,” Pelosi added.
“I’m just saying that the Republicans should have some dismay about the door that they are opening, the threshold they are crossing.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he backs the president’s emergency intent, but several others in the Republican camp have expressed deep reservations.
“I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds,” veteran Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement.
Senator Susan Collins said it “would be a mistake” for the president to declare such an emergency, warning it would “undermine” lawmakers’ all-important role as holders of federal purse strings.
Democrats in particular have signalled that the move would open the door to future presidents declaring emergencies on various topics, from gun violence to climate change to the opioid crisis. — AFP