Impasse in negotiations with Democrats may force national emergency
The Pentagon is making preparations in the event of President Donald Trump ordering the military to build the southern wall, a defense official has said.
Trump recently hinted that he might take this course of action in the light of an impasse in negotiations with Democrats resulting in the government shutdown.
Despite no order being given yet, the Pentagon has developed plans in case the President issues the order.
“I may declare a national emergency dependent on what’s going to happen over the next few days,” Trump told reporters on Sunday.
Declaring a national emergency so the military can build the wall has been examined since the fall, according to an official.
A portion on funds could be derived from unobligated funds for military construction projects, the official added.
“Unobligated” means the money has been approved for a specific purpose but has not been used yet.
The construction would be likely to be overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Many Democrats claim Donald Trump does not have the authority to order the wall construction by the military, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) declared the President does have the authority.
“There is a provision in the law that says the president can declare an emergency. It’s been done sometimes. But primarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
A Pentagon spokesman told reporters:
“Congress has provided options under Title 10 U.S. Code that could permit the Department of Defense to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counterdrug operations or national emergencies.”
Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Defense Secretary, would only reject any such order for the military to build the wall
Following a Cabinet meeting on the border last week, Shanahan applauded the Army Corps of Engineers for their work in repairing fences and the “building out of additional mileage for the wall.”
“The Army Corps of Engineers is dialed in on doing this cost-effectively, quickly, and with the right amount of urgency as to where we can build additional standup walls quickly and then get after the threat. The threat is real. The risks are real. We need to control our borders,” he said.
But Democrats along with Smith, state their opposition to the idea, and Trump would face many legal battles.
“In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency? You have to establish that to do this. But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars.”
The President is expected to travel to the border on Thursday before giving a public Oval Office address.
Defense officials have confirmed they will be watching to see if a declaration of national emergency issued this week.
Last year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested President would renew 700,000 work permits in exchange for $5 billion for border security.
The assumption upon Graham’s deal is mostly centered around Trump winning the court case currently working its way through the system.
The Democrats’ recently proposed bill to end the partial shutdown of the US Government, offering $12 billion more in foreign aid than the Trump Administration requested.
The offered nothing extra to fund the wall along the Southern Border or provide additional border security.