Thursday saw Congress signing a bill that would prevent the government from being shut down again on Friday. In December the longest shutdown in U.S. history was triggered after House Democrats refused to give President Donald Trump the $5.7 billion he was demanding to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The shutdown continued for 35 days, leaving 800,000 federal employees working without pay or furloughed. Congress and the administration reached an agreement to temporarily reopen government until February 15 while they continued to negotiate. As the deadline loomed, it seemed more and more likely an agreement would be reached to prevent another shutdown.
That agreement was announced on Thursday, but in one fell swoop the administration also announced their intention to circumvent the system by declaring a national emergency to get the border wall money. In quick response, lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties slammed the president for the decision, according to NBC News.
Both sides are concerned about the precedent this will set for the future, as well as the legality of calling an emergency to get money to fulfill a campaign promise.
“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement. “It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law. This is not an emergency, and the president’s fear-mongering doesn’t make it one.”
Congress just passed the border deal. Trump said he’ll still declare a national emergency. Here’s a look at the likely legal fight. https://t.co/XRm5OrpnKa
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 15, 2019
Democrats also accused the president of having manufactured the crisis in the first place, just so that he could fulfill his biggest campaign promise. Some pointed out that there would have been an outcry if former President Barack Obama had tried to declare a national emergency to push his agenda.
“Gun violence is a national emergency. Climate Change is a national emergency. Income inequality is a national emergency. Access to healthcare is a national emergency. Building a wall on the southern border is not,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., tweeted after the news broke on Thursday.
Republicans are just as concerned by this action. Many believe that if Trump is able to do this he will be setting a precedent for future Democratic presidents to also ignore Congress to push their own agendas.
“President Trump is opening the door for any future president to act alone without congressional approval,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wa., said in a statement.
Other Republicans felt betrayed about the secrecy with which the whole deal was carried out.
The belief is that the president will be using the emergency to move funds around from other departments to get the money he needs to complete the wall that he has been promising since his presidential campaign in 2016. At the time, of course, he promised that he would be forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.
Unfortunately for him, Mexico made it clear they would not be footing the bill for that project, and Trump has been searching for a way to get the funds ever since. The Democrats added to Mexico’s rhetoric, saying they wouldn’t approve the funding either.