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McConnell: Trump Will Sign Spending Bill and Declare National Emergency to Fund Wall

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks after a Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, January 29, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that President Trump will sign the homeland-security-spending bill pending before Congress while simultaneously declaring a national emergency in order to fund his long-promised border wall.

The spending bill, which provides just $1.35 billion for the construction of new physical barriers on the southern border, will receive a vote in the Senate Thursday afternoon, and will then go to Trump’s desk to be signed into law, narrowly averting another government shutdown.

McConnell also announced Thursday on the Senate floor that he supports Trump’s national-emergency declaration, breaking from a group of Senate conservatives critical of ceding more authority to the executive.

“I’ve just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump, and he would, I would say to all my colleagues, has indicated that he’s prepared to sign the bill,” McConell said. “He will also be issuing a national-emergency declaration at the same time. And I’ve indicated to him that I’m going to prepare — I’m going to support the national-emergency declaration. So for all of my colleagues, the president will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Trump would declare a national emergency in a Thursday afternoon statement.

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” the statement read. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”

The announcement comes after a protracted conference-committee negotiation over Department of Homeland Security funding, which began after Trump signed a short-term spending bill in late January, ending a record 35-day government shutdown. Trump agreed to sign the stopgap bill in exchange for a commitment from Democrats to negotiate in the three weeks before the next deadline for a shutdown, which is this Friday.

Since negotiations first began, Trump has cast doubt on the ability of congressional negotiators to deliver adequate border-security funding and repeatedly invoked the possibility of declaring a national emergency as the only route to deliver on his campaign promise.

Under the emergency declaration, which is sure to be met with a legal challenge, Trump will attempt to appropriate discretionary military funds to make up the difference between the $1.35 billion Congress has appropriated for the border wall and the $5.7 billion he has long demanded.

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