Trump administration eyes disaster money to fund border wall

Washington DC. L-R Senator John Barrasso US Vice President Mike Pence Trump US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Washington DC. L-R Senator John Barrasso US Vice President Mike Pence Trump US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The president is requesting Congress to approve $5.7 billion to help fulfill a campaign promise to build a wall along the US southern border.

On Friday, the shutdown reached a new milestone by stretching into its 21st day and matching the record for the longest government shutdown in USA history, and for many of those federal employees work without pay or on furlough, today marks the first full paycheck they'll miss under the shutdown.

Republicans and Democrats have made virtually no progress toward reaching any kind of a deal that would end the standoff over the President's border wall that triggered the shutdown. One way around that political roadblock could be for Trump to declare a national emergency, which would allow him to use unspent Defense Department disaster recovery and military construction funds to start construction.

Almost $14 billion in emergency disaster relief funds have been allocated but not yet obligated through contracts for a variety of projects in states including California, Florida and Texas and in the US territory of Puerto Rico that have been ravaged by recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, according to the aide familiar with the matter.

On Thursday, the president said he would declare a national emergency to compel funds for the wall if he couldn't make a deal with Democrats. Critics have said the move would be an unconstitutional abuse of emergency powers.

"The president once said that Mexico would pay for the wall", he said, playing a montage of Trump at campaign rallies.

Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thursday to highlight what he calls a crisis of drugs and crime along the border.

Still, he declared: "A wall works". But the administration points to an uptick of illegal border crossing apprehensions in recent months as evidence.

Regardless of where the money is found, an emergency declaration would draw immediate legal challenge from Democrats, who have accused Trump of trying to manufacture a crisis at the southern border to justify his wall. "What is manufactured is the use of the word 'manufactured, '" Trump said. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: "Build that wall!"

On Wednesday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Trump, but the meeting ended quickly after Trump walked out because the Democratic leaders did not compromise on funding for the border wall. He was to leave January 21 to attend the World Economic Forum.

This article was written by Catherine Lucey, Lisa Mascaro and Zeke Miller from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.