Update: Government shutdown, Trump declares a national emergency

After months of deliberation, President Trump signed a spending deal instead of shutting the government down.

On Feb. 11, congressional leaders announced a government spending bill deal to avoid a potential second shutdown. President Trump requested $5.7 billion for physical barriers. The deal contains $1.3 billion.

“He is prepared to sign the bill,” Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said. “He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time.”

Friday morning, Trump discussed the highlights of his plan that will draw from former President Obama’s national emergency plan regarding cartels. Trump explained the process of re-allocating money in the U.S. Department of Defense’s budget, but ensured it would not affect members of the military or their projects. Some of the money that will be used is not yet assigned.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our Southern Border,” Trump said. “We’re going to do it one way or the another.”

What caused the government shutdown?

Last December, Trump requested funding for a border wall which turned into a Congressional standoff. As a result, it led to the longest government shutdown is U.S. history. Congress passed a temporary bill to fund the government for three weeks to continue negotiations. Similarly, Trump briefly discussed this issue in his State of the Union address. Congress set the deadline to reach a new deal for Feb. 15, 2019. With days left to spare, Trump signed a deal.

Is a declaration of national emergency constitutional?

Immediately after Trump’s announcement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a joint statement.

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall.”

Trump’s options and terminating national emergencies

Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, “with respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise of any special or extraordinary power during a national emergency, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency.”

There are two options for terminating the national emergency. Congress can terminate it by concurrent resolution. On the other hand, Trump can issue a proclamation terminating the emergency. In addition, one of the Act’s clauses explains that Congress is to vote on the termination. Congress will have to vote on it every six months until resolution.

Trump has a few possible options for his next course of action:

  • Re-allocate funds from the Department of Defense and allow the Secretary of State to undertake military construction projects that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.
  • The Pentagon can use resources of the Army’s Civil Works program to construct authorized works that are essential to the national defense.
  • The Secretary of Defense is permitted to undertake a military construction project if it is vital to national security. However, only $50 million a year is allocated to that. Trump could simply re-allocate the Department of Defense funds to this project.
  • A state attorney general can request the president to declare an immigration emergency.

 

TNJN will continue to update as the story progresses.

Edited by Ciera Noe and Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image by Pixabay