The country's longest ever government shutdown hit day 35 on Friday and federal workers missed yet another paycheck—but instead of urging the GOP-controlled Senate to pass legislation to reopen the government, the White House is reportedly drafting a national emergency order to secure more than $7 billion for President Donald Trump's racist border wall, despite warnings from legal experts that doing so would be "constitutionally illegitimate."
"It wasn't an emergency last week. It wasn't an emergency when the GOP controlled Congress and the White House. It's not an emergency now."
—Rep. Ilhan Omar
A draft obtained exclusively by CNN and updated as recently as last week supposedly declares, "The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency."
"Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States," it reads.
The President is illegitimate, and he is preparing to declare a fake national emergency to circumvent the Constitution. This is happening.
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) January 25, 2019
An unnamed government official told CNN that the White House has identified various sources of funding for the wall, which prompted the shutdown: "$681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds."
Such a move, if pursued, would undoubtedly face legal challenges in the courts and from Democrats in Congress, but if Trump's order was allowed to stand, it would mobilize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a wall along the southern border, which would require the federal government to seize private land.
The CNN report, published Thursday night, was met with immediate condemnation.
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"It wasn't an emergency last week. It wasn't an emergency when the GOP controlled Congress and the White House. It's not an emergency now," tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). "Trump invented this emergency when Mexico and 70 percent of Americans said no deal."
It wasn't an emergency last week.
It wasn't an emergency when the GOP controlled Congress & the White House.
It's not an emergency now.
Trump invented this emergency when Mexico & 70% of Americans said no deal. https://t.co/lx89nXRTkV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 25, 2019
"Whatever ultimately becomes of Trump's threat, or of the debate over the wall more generally, Congress ought to use this episode as an excuse to revisit the National Emergencies Act—and, more generally, the way in which it delegates these kinds of special powers to the president," Steve Vladeck, a professor at University of Texas School of Law, argued in an op-ed published Thursday by NBC News.
My latest: Whether or not @realDonaldTrump ends up declaring a "national emergency" to build his wall, Congress should amend the National Emergencies Act to sunset all future presidential emergency declarations—so that Congress would eventually have to authorize/reauthorize them: https://t.co/0UyvZ6AJH0
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) January 24, 2019