President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in order to unilaterally appropriate $3.6 billion for the construction of his long-promised border wall.
The announcement, made during a televised White House Rose Garden ceremony, came after Congress passed a bipartisan homeland-security-funding bill that allocated just $1.375 billion for the construction of new barriers on the southern border.
“I’m going to be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so. It gave the presidents the power,” Trump said. “There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it, nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting.”
The $1.375 billion approved by Congress will be supplemented by the discretionary military funding appropriated through the national-emergency declaration, as well as an additional $600 million withdrawn from the Treasury Department’s drug-forfeiture fund, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney explained in a Friday morning call with reporters.
In justifying his emergency declaration, the president repeatedly referenced the “angel moms” in attendance, and recounted the stories of their children’s deaths at the hands of illegal immigrants.
“Ask these women if there’s a national emergency,” Trump said, pointing to the “angel moms” in response to CNN’s Jim Acosta’s suggestion that he “concocted” a national emergency for political purposes.
Trump acknowledged during his Friday address that the emergency declaration is sure to be met with numerous legal challenges and predicted the case would eventually be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Asked about conservative critics who have argued the national-emergency declaration cedes too much power to the executive and paves the way for constitutional abuses by future Democratic administrations, Trump argued it was necessary given the scale of the problem at the southern border.
“We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming in to our country,” he said.