President Donald Trump seemingly backed up a bit on his rhetoric concerning the possibility that he could declare a national emergency in order to obtain funding for a controversial wall or barrier on the U.S. southern border.
Trump has escalated the possibility that he could make such a declaration in recent days. But on Friday, during a roundtable discussion with border security officials, Trump seemed reluctant to do so, stating he only would if it was absolutely necessary.
“Now the easy solution is for me to call a national emergency, I could do that very quickly,” Trump said, per reporting from CBS News. “I have the absolute right to do it.”
Despite asserting his right to do so, however, Trump made clear it wasn’t his preference, hoping that Congress could appropriate funding for the wall themselves, ending a government shutdown crisis that has lasted for three weeks.
Trump has said that he would not sign off on any bills keeping the government open unless they contained provisions for $5.6 billion in wall funding. Democrats in Congress have said they won’t agree to produce any bills with that funding in them. The impasse was not solved by the December 22 deadline, and since that time the government has been partially shut down.
Trump said he was hopeful that Congress would change its mind.
“I’m not going to [declare an emergency] so fast because this is something Congress should do. And we’re waiting for the Democrats to vote, they should come back and vote. They want to go home. They’re probably home by now.”
Even though he seemingly backed away from the idea of declaring a national emergency, Trump continued to state that he would “100 percent” do so if Democrats didn’t agree to money for the wall or barrier.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump could feasibly move billions of dollars away from projects involving the Army Corp of Engineers, and rededicate those allotted funds toward the border wall project. The White House was reportedly considering the idea earlier in the week.
The move would be a controversial one, given that the funds were originally appropriated out to help areas of the country that have been battered by natural disasters, including areas of Texas and Puerto Rico, per previous reporting from the Inquisitr.
Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017, could see as much as $2.5 billion taken away from projects that would help their recovery efforts through the year 2020.