The White House says the president “isn’t going to back off” as he meets congressional leaders for talks on the partial government shutdown. President Donald Trump is refusing to sign any budget without funding for a US-Mexico border wall, which Democrats are adamantly against.
Donald Trump says he can declare a “national emergency” and build his promised wall along the border without congressional approval. If that’s the case, the question becomes why he doesn’t go ahead and do that. Why put federal workers through the pain of forgoing pay and hamstring key government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, if he could bypass Democratic objections with the snap of his presidential fingers?
The answer is because the solution isn’t that simple. There are provisions of US law that allow the president to direct military construction projects during war or national emergency, but that money would have to come from Defence Department funds allocated by Congress for other purposes. Such a move may prompt Congress, including Republicans, to push back.
Then there’s the inevitable legal challenge from Democrats to such an exercise of presidential authority. Any presidential order to build a wall would be met by an equally imposing wall of court filings blocking its construction. The president’s latest suggestions are best viewed as simply another attempt to gain the upper hand in negotiations with Democrats.
This may not be a threat, more a bluff.