On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over conditions at the southern border between the United States and Mexico. The purpose of this national emergency was to be able to begin the process of moving money from various government agencies, and to fund the agencies that would be tasked with building the border wall that Trump promised to build back when he first began his campaign for president in 2015.
The national emergency punctuated an ending to the state of limbo in which government workers have been working since the end of 2018. By declaring a national emergency, Trump put an end to any questions about how he would pay for the wall which he has promised his supporters and allies for years. He also signed a funding bill that officially and fully ended the government shutdown. Now that he has gone ahead and chosen the means by which he will acquire the wall, he can begin the process of selecting which agencies to siphon money from, so that the wall can be built at all.
The reaction from the Democrats has been swift and sustained. On Friday, Feb. 22, Democrats in the House filed to end the national emergency. Representative Joaquin Castro, brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, was the Democrat who officially filed the motion to bring the national emergency to an end. The move’s symbolic meanings should not be ignored, Castro is a Texas Democrat and is also Mexican-American.
The measure will likely pass in the House quite easily, and it will be brought up in the Senate for a vote, though it is not likely to pass in the Senate. Even if the measure passes both chambers of Congress, it can be vetoed by the president, and if it is vetoed, it would require a tougher vote to override the Presidential veto.
In December and January, reports came in of the President asking key government agencies what money had been allocated to which projects for the determining potential sources of funding for the wall. Even though a national emergency has been declared, it is not as if that itself will result in the creation of new revenue designed specifically to go to the wall. Money will still have to come from existing sources.
Some especially controversial reporting suggested that the President has his eyes on funding that is intended to help hurricane relief efforts for regions such as Puerto Rico and other future hurricane victims. The idea that this might happen has infuriated Puerto Rican lawmakers and some, such as Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello, have heatedly reacted. Rossello tweeted on Feb. 15 that if the President tried to use hurricane relief funds to build the wall, Rossello would, “see him in court.”
There are Republican lawmakers on both sides of this issue. Representative Will Hurd, who is a congressman for the largest border district in the country, is opposed to the wall and has opposed it publicly going on programs such as Real Time With Bill Maher and stating so. Other Republican lawmakers have supported it, such as Montana Sen. Scott Sales, who is one of the few lawmakers who is attempting to send state revenue to the efforts to build the wall.