By Garrett Cecere
In an attempt to gain the billions of dollars necessary for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, Feb. 15, The New York Times reported.
This decision came after lawmakers would not meet the president’s request for funds, according to CNN. Trump and his top officials made the argument that there is a crisis at the Mexican border, while Democrats countered by saying that the situation is more of a humanitarian than a security issue.
The Washington Post reported that Republicans are split on Trump’s decision, as many of them find the declaration unsettling, while others do not want to challenge it with the upcoming elections in 2020.
Some Democrats spoke out against the president’s actions, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer D-N.Y, who claimed that Trump’s decision is unconstitutional.
“‘This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,’” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement, according to The New York Times.
CNN reported that Trump expects challenges in court against his declaration. However, he rejected critics who claim his decision will set a bad precedent and said that he is “on firm legal ground.”
Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president can declare a national emergency when he feels the circumstances are appropriate, according to The Washington Post.
Presidents have declared national emergencies approximately 60 times, The New York Times reported. However, many of the emergencies have been associated with issues such as foreign crises and blocking trades and exports, as opposed to redirecting money without the approval of Congress.
Past presidents who have spent money without legislative approval include former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush during the Persian Gulf War and after the 9/11 attacks respectively, according to The New York Times.
The Washington Post reported that presidential scholars said Trump’s declaration could be viewed differently from past presidents’ desperate decisions if he backs up his choice with the National Emergencies Act, since his action comes after Congress refused him funding, rather than in response to a crisis that is evident to American citizens.
The president’s declaration does not automatically guarantee a border wall. The Trump administration could face legal challenges from House Democrats, as well as landowners who would be forced to give up property for barriers, according to CNN.
House Democrats could bring in a resolution that repeals the national emergency and vote on it before it goes to the Senate. CNN reported that Trump could veto the decision even if it hypothetically passed through the Republican-controlled Senate.