To see how this announcement fits into the timeline of border wall construction, click here.
- President Donald Trump will sign Friday the $333 billion spending bill passed by Congress Thursday, according to a press statement, thus avoiding another federal government shutdown. The bill allocates approximately $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new steel barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border — far short of what the president asked for. Trump, however, declared a national emergency to secure a total of $8 billion in border wall funding Friday morning.
- In order to reach to the $8 billion figure, the White House said it will use the $1.4 billion in the spending bill and then pull approximately $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, $2.5 billion from Department of Defense counter-narcotics funds and $3.6 billion from the DOD's military construction budget.
- Trump’s intentions elicited sharp words from Democratic leaders in Congress, who say they will fight back. "Declaring a national emergency,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (R-NY), "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."
In order to tap the $2.5 billion from the DOD, according to The New York Times, the DOD would give the money to the Army Corps of Engineers, then the White House would transfer property along the border to the DOD. The Army Corps could then use the money to build dozens of miles of barriers to protect the DOD's newly acquired property.
If the president manages to win the almost-certain legal battles that lie ahead should he declare a national emergency, he would come away with more than $2 billion for border wall construction than the $5.7 billion he originally requested, which Congress rejected.
According to a January report from Stars and Stripes, Trump could have as much as $37 billion for border wall construction at his disposal under a national emergency declaration. The DOD would be able to hand over $23 billion that has not yet been allocated for its own construction projects — $10 billion from the current fiscal year’s budget and $13 billion that has been amassed during the last five years. Also, the Army Corps has about $14 billion of undedicated disaster funds available.
The Trump administration has attempted to reframe the border wall discussion by shifting its plans for a solid concrete structure to a steel-slat barrier. However, during 2017 tests of border wall prototypes, personnel from the U.S. military and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection were able to cut through the steel bollard fence sample using common, readily available tools. President Trump reportedly said that the barrier in the test was an older design and that the new one would be “very, very hard to penetrate."