WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will sign spending legislation to prevent a government shutdown while declaring a national emergency to try to build his proposed border wall, the White House confirmed Thursday.
"President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. It came before both chambers of Congress easily passed a measure to keep the government open past a midnight Friday deadline.
"The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," she added, as Trump prepared to approve legislation allocating about a quarter of the money he sought for barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.
If Trump follows through, lawmakers and the White House would dodge their second partial shutdown since December, sparing about 800,000 federal workers from more financial pain. But the emergency declaration could quickly spark lawsuits challenging the president's authority, creating yet another fight over his key campaign promise.
Trump will speak in the White House Rose Garden after 10 a.m. ET on Friday on what the White House called the "national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border." The president will announce he seeks $8 billion for wall construction, an administration official told NBC News. Along with the funds allocated by Congress, he aims to use $600 million from the Treasury's drug forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense's drug interdiction program and $3.5 billion from the military construction budget, according to NBC and ABC News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "may" file a legal challenge and will review her options, she told reporters Thursday.
"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," she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Thursday. They added: "This is not an emergency, and the president's fearmongering doesn't make it one."
The emergency declaration would allow Trump to redirect funds from other parts of the government to the project without congressional approval. The move could in part assuage conservative critics who argued the president should not accept the latest congressional plan, which denied him the funding he demanded for the border barrier.
He had threatened the action for weeks, splitting the GOP caucus as some Republicans argued it would set a dangerous precedent. Trump repeatedly cast the emergency declaration as a decision rather than a necessity, which could weaken his legal case for the move.