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Shutdown or No Shutdown, Can Trump Still Build the Wall Without Approval from Congress?

12-19-2018
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Arizona/Mexico Border
Arizona/Mexico Border

The Senate has passed a last-minute spending bill keeping the government open until February 8th. The bill funds nine departments that would have run out of money on midnight Friday, preventing a so-called government shutdown.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass the stopgap measure today and send it on to President Trump. But there's one hitch – it doesn't include the $5 billion he wanted for the border wall.

If he signs it, the president could face trouble with supporters who want him to keep his pledge to build a wall on our southern border. Right wing commentators and legislators are criticizing the president for seemingly backing away from his demand for $5 billion to build the wall.

But the president is promising to build a border wall with Mexico "one way or the other." 

That may involve some tricky accounting, but it's not impossible. 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the administration is looking into different funding sources to come up with the $5 billion in border wall funding the president wants.

Top Democrats hit back on that assessment, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) who criticized the move Wednesday morning on the Senate floor. 

"The president's spokesperson has claimed that the administration can reprogram funds given to other areas of the government to build the full wall. Let me be very clear – let me be very clear. The administration cannot reprogram funds appropriated by Congress for the full wall without our assent. To do so would violate Congress's Article 1 powers. They cannot do it on their own and the House and Senate will not approve a wall," he said. 

Schumer made clear that funding across agencies could not be made available to build the wall in its entirety, but the White House maintains it's looking at every avenue.

Meanwhile, President Trump echoed the infamous campaign promise that Mexico will pay for the wall on Twitter Wednesday:

"Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large-scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!"

How exactly will the military build the wall? Analysts say the Trump administration can use money from the Defense Department's counternarcotics funding, which currently amounts to just over $500 million. 

Trump can also pull money from the emergency Military Construction (MILCON) fund, which can be used without congressional approval in cases of national security.

Lastly, the administration can use $10 billion in unused funds allocated for the Army Corps of Engineers by declaring a national emergency. CBN News Chief Political Analyst David Brody says President Trump has been using the words "national emergency" a lot lately, which could be laying the groundwork for him to take that path.

For a deeper analysis on what this means for the showdown between Democrats and Republicans, click the player ABOVE to hear from Chief Political Analyst David Brody.
 

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