President Donald Trump made it clear to Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he will “most likely” declare a national emergency to build his border wall and suggested that he’d decide on it “over the next few days.”
Speaking to Hannity during his visit to the border at McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, Trump said he’d likely declare the emergency if he couldn’t reach a deal with Democrats in Congress for funding to begin building the wall.
“If we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that,” Trump said. “I would actually say I would.”
“I can’t imagine any reason why not, because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100 percent on my side,” he added.
Trump expressed similar certainty to reporters before leaving for Texas, saying at the White House that he could almost say “definitely” that he would declare the emergency.
Trump was less clear about when he would make the call but suggested to Hannity that it could be soon.
“We’re going to see what happens over the next few days. They should do it immediately,” Trump said, referring to Democrats in Congress who have not agreed to the president’s demand of $5.7 billion for the wall.
“Look, we’re not going anywhere,” he continued. “We’re not changing our minds.”
The government remains in a partial shutdown as Trump and Democrats fail to reach an agreement over how much money in the federal budget should be set aside for his proposed wall.
Democrats have offered to allocate $1.3 billion in the budget for border security, which includes building and refurbishing barriers at the border, but Trump has reportedly refused any offer less than his demand of $5.7 billion.
Reacting to the stonewalled negotiations, the president last week began threatening to declare a national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and build the border wall “very quickly.” By declaring a national emergency, the Trump administration would gain access to funds to build his wall elsewhere in the government.
Trump is already moving forward with these plans by reportedly looking into spending money in the Department of Defense’s disaster recovery and military construction fund that hasn’t yet been spent. Such drastic measures would likely prompt Democrats in Congress to legally challenge the administration for violating the appropriations clause in the Constitution.
Late Thursday, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security had already slammed the administration over reports that Trump was considering using disaster recovery funds, and he promised to stop any efforts to do so.
In a statement, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) demanded that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “disavow” the reports.
“These funds were intended by Congress to be used for real emergencies and to help millions recover from hurricanes and other disasters,” Thompson said. “Under no circumstance are these funds to be used to fund the President’s pet project so he can claim a win.”