Officials at the White House have started exploring alternative ways of diverting funding for President Donald Trump’s long-sought border wall if he decides to declare a national emergency to obtain it, though they remain divided over whether the president should make such a move.
The administration has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to examine potentially diverting money from other projects, including disaster relief for Puerto Rico, Texas, California and Florida, to pay for the wall, which the President wants to build along the southern border. The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is also looking into whether it can have the Department of Homeland Security request the funds from the Pentagon.
According to administration officials, the President is strongly advised against declaring a national emergency just to prove a point to Democrats, who oppose the wall. They say Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser, has been lobbying for restraint, saying in a recent Oval Office meeting that an emergency should be invoked only if it creates a clear path for the White House to build the wall.
“Let’s stop doing things just to do them,” officials familiar with the meeting cite Kushner as saying.
President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway is also among those urging him not to make such a radical decision. Still, people familiar with the President’s thinking say that he believes declaring a national emergency would be the most effective way to provide federal funding and end the government shutdown, the second longest in U.S. history.
In case Trump goes through with his threat, he could sign a spending bill to reopen the government, while his emergency declaration would most certainly face immediate legal challenges.
“I probably will do it—I would almost say definitely,” Trump said Thursday.
Among those pushing for President Trump to make the emergency move is Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. But such a scenario could also result in Trump drawing the ire of some conservative allies, who may see it as an abuse of executive power, the Journal writes.