WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump said Friday that he is not yet ready to declare a national emergency, a move that would represent a deeply controversial — and legally questionable — attempt to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’m not going to do it so fast,” Trump said in remarks from the White House cabinet room. “What we’re not looking to do right now is [declare a] national emergency.”
Trump initially raised the prospect of an emergency declaration last week, but had maintained that he would prefer to have Congress approve funds for the wall.
However, an impasse between the White House and Congressional Democrats has remained in place all week with no sign of compromise.
Trump has demanded $5.7 billion to construct a border along the U.S.-Mexico while Democrats, who have long-opposed Trump’s wall proposal and recently took control of the lower chamber, have countered with $1.3 billion in border security.
Negotiations stalled this week after Trump walked out of a meeting, a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterating her party’s position.
Trump followed by dropping strong hints throughout the week that a national emergency declaration could be in the works.
“If we don’t make a deal, I would say it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency and just fund it through the various mechanisms,” Trump told reporters Thursday from the White House South Lawn.
In his remarks Friday, which came amid a meeting on border security with administration officials, law enforcement leaders, and religious figures, Trump said that onus should remain on Congress.
If Trump ultimately decides to move forward with an emergency declaration, it will almost certainly be met with a myriad of legal challenges.
It is unclear whether a national emergency declaration would give the president the authority to bypass Congress.
Article I, Sec. 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
But Trump may be able to use appropriated funds that have not been spent.
Pelosi said Thursday that Trump would incur blowback from Republicans if he declares a national emergency for the wall. “The president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power. But let’s see what he does,” Pelosi said at a news conference.
However, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, has encouraged the president to go ahead and declare a national emergency, reiterating his position Friday following a separate meeting with the President.
Trump expressed concern in Friday’s meeting that the wall proposal could be immediately bogged down by legal challenges.
Earlier in the afternoon, the president posted a photo on Twitter showing a recently completed section of a steel bollard-style fence along the border. He praised the structure.
The Fake News Media keeps saying we haven’t built any NEW WALL. Below is a section just completed on the Border. Anti-climbing feature included. Very high, strong and beautiful! Also, many miles already renovated and in service! pic.twitter.com/UAAGXl5Byr
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2019