The Senate majority leader thinks it's fine for Trump to do an end-run around Congress and steal disaster relief money to build his wall.
Trump has finally decided to sign a government funding bill even though it does not fund his precious border wall project — but he will also declare a national emergency to try to sidestep Congress and get the money he was denied, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Thursday.
McConnell went on to say that he supports Trump's decision to declare a national emergency, which would allow Trump to take money appropriated for other areas and use it to build the wall.
By supporting this move, McConnell is giving Trump the go-ahead to run roughshod over the separation of powers — and to potentially steal funds from important projects like military family housing or disaster relief in order to pay for a useless wall.
Where the money would come from is not yet set in stone. But the Washington Post reported last month that the Trump administration was looking at raiding $13.9 billion allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers for natural disaster relief. Those funds were intended for rebuilding efforts in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and Florida, flood management programs in Texas, and wildfire management in California.
Other funds could Department of Defense construction projects, including homes for military families.
Congress does have the authority to override Trump's national emergency declaration. But given that McConnell said he backs Trump's move, it's possible that any efforts by House Democrats to block Trump's efforts could die in the Senate.
Of course, in order to back Trump's emergency declaration, Republicans would be going against the wishes of the vast majority of the public — as two-thirds of Americans oppose such a move, according to a CBS News poll from early February.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats are already considering their options to fight the emergency declaration, which includes the possibility of filing a legal challenge.
“It’s not an emergency what’s happening at the border," Pelosi said.
Either way, Trump and the GOP got rolled on this border wall funding fight. And now they are reverting to an unpopular emergency declaration that the public doesn't want, and that has the horrible optics of stealing money intended for disaster relief efforts.
So much winning.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.