White House Plans to Redirect Funding to Wall
By Heather Ham-Warren | FAIR Take | January 2020
Almost one year ago, following the longest government shutdown in history, President Trump declared a state of emergency at the southern border, utilizing his executive powers to redirect billions of dollars towards the construction of a border wall.
In December, Congress drafted, debated, and passed legislation to fund the government through fiscal year 2020. However, the packages did not refill the $3.6 billion in military construction programs that the Trump administration redirected to wall funding last year. Nonetheless, in spite of what could be perceived as a setback, the White House did not appear to be concerned by this decision.
Then, on Monday, it was reported that the White House plans to take an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding and redirect it towards barrier construction. According to an administration official, the additional funds would complete approximately 855 miles of new fencing by 2022— finally allowing President Trump to make substantial headway on his 2016 campaign promise (just in time for the 2020 election).
Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can force a vote on ending the president’s emergency declaration every six months. However, even though passing legislation to block the emergency declaration requires only a simple majority in the Senate, 67 votes are needed to ultimately override any anticipated vetoes. So far, Congress has already voted twice to end the emergency declaration, and it is likely that the White House will be vetoing another attempt later this year.
The judicial branch has also been involved in this issue, as just last week a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled that plaintiffs suing the Trump administration to block the use of the military funds did not have the legal standing to bring a challenge. The decision comes six months after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an injunction from a federal court judge in California that blocked the administration's first attempt to reprogram military funds.
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, celebrated the court's ruling in a statement, saying, "This is a victory for the rule of law. We are committed to keeping our borders secure, and we will finish the wall.”