President Donald Trump will sign a bipartisan spending deal – but will declare a ‘national emergency’ in an effort to procure funds to build a border wall, the White House said Thursday.
The move drew both statements of relief from lawmakers who wanted to avoid another government shutdown – and a threat from Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the emergency declaration.
Pelosi called it an ‘end-run around the will of the people,’ speaking to reporters minutes after news of Trump’s position broke, while warning it could come back to bite Republicans.
‘We will review our options, we’ll be prepared to respond appropriately to it,’ Pelosi said, asked about Trump’s planned emergency declaration.
She also brandished the threat a future Democratic president could use the same tactic of Trump moves forward
‘I know the Republicans have some unease about it, no matter what they say. Because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people,’ she said.
‘You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America,’ Pelosi said, referencing the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
‘That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that. [A] Democratic president can declare emergencies as well,’ she threatened.
Within minutes after the White House announced its support, the Senate adopted the legislative package by a vote of 83-16. The House was to follow suit Thursday night.
Said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement: ‘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. The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,’ she added.
With the flurry of action Thursday afternoon, the Senate and House were set to vote in sequence on the $328 billion package.
McConnell made his announcement on the Senate floor after signals of indecision from the White House were once again raising fears of a government shutdown after Friday.
Declaring a national emergency will allow Trump to repurpose billions of dollars Congress approved last year for other projects at the Pentagon and other agencies. The White House and Democrats have indicated that they expect interest groups to sue, challenging the president’s power to sidestep lawmakers’ power of the purse.
With Washington on edge a day before another shutdown deadline with no clear signal from the White House, McConnell told colleagues: ‘I’ve just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump, and he would, I would say to all my colleagues, has indicated that he’s prepared to sign the bill.’
‘He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time. And I’ve indicated to him that I’m going to prepare – I’m going to support the national emergency declaration. So for all of my colleagues, the President will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly,’ McConnell said.
A top Democrat immediately blasted the move to declare an emergency for funds Congress would not approve.