Trump declares national emergency to fund the wall
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at her weekly press conference, indicated that she may file a legal challenge if President Trump declares a national emergency. She said that if the President does so, it will be an “end run around Congress.”
Asked by a reporter is she still plans to file a legal challenge against Trump's declaration, Pelosi responded, "Did I ever say I was filing a legal challenge? I may."
She continued: "That’s an option and we will review our options. But it’s important to note that when the President declares this emergency, first of all it’s not an emergency what’s happening at the border — It’s a humanitarian challenge to us … putting that aside, just in terms of the President making an end-run around Congress. Here he said, let us respect what the committee will do and then walks away from it. The President is doing an end-run around Congress.”
Several Republican senators said they have no information on President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency.
Sen. John Cornyn, who has been critical of going this route, said he still harbors concerns but wants to get more information.
Sen. Pat Roberts didn’t know this was happening until CNN reporters told him.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who supports the move, said he hasn’t been told how it’ll be done.
“This is fight worth having," he said. "I’m not worried about what some Democrat is going to do in the future."
What Graham's talking about: Many Capitol Hill Republicans have expressed concern that declaring a national emergency in this situation would lead to a new norm. They worry about setting a precedent that future Democratic presidents could use to push a left-wing agenda item.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s abrupt announcement Thursday that President Trump would sign the border security spending package came after a day of consternation among Republican lawmakers and administration officials about whether the President would sign the bill.
The President’s only public message was a midday tweet indicating he was still mulling the final text of the bill with his team at the White House. Even after McConnell’s announcement — which came ahead of any official word from the White House on the President’s position — the White House was scrambling to make Trump’s intentions official.
Earlier today, the President phoned GOP allies on Capitol Hill to ask their advice and vent at some of the bill’s shortcomings, leading many to believe he was backing away from his earlier support of the compromise spending legislation, according to people familiar with the calls.
Trump told multiple allies he was considering not signing the bill.
That concern extended to the White House, where aides spent all morning trying to digest the details of the 1,100-page bill and flag potential snags both to the President and to Capitol Hill.
In briefings about the bill, the President expressed concern that something might be found buried the bill after he signed it, leading to embarrassment. He huddled with his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and legislative affairs director Shahira Knight in the Oval Office this afternoon, as they intensely lobbied the President to not back away from the bill.
Amid the wrangling, many of the President’s senior advisers stressed he should sign the package to avoid another shutdown, which they said would damage him politically.
They said signing a national emergency declaration or some other type of executive action would blunt whatever blowback he received from conservatives.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders just issued a statement confirming that President Trump will sign the bill, and "take other executive action -- including a national emergency -- to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border."
Read her statement:
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action -- including a national emergency -- to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just said President Trump is prepared to sign the compromise funding bill into law, and the Senate is expected to begin voting soon.
- Around 3:30 p.m. ET: The Senate will vote to end the filibuster.
- Immediately after that: There will be a vote for final passage of the funding bill. Should the measure pass, it will then be sent to the House for passage.
- 6:30 p.m. ET: The House reconvenes. We're expecting a vote around 8:15 p.m. ET.
One more thing to keep an eye one: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a presser at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Most Americans (66%) are opposed to using a national emergency in order to build a border wall, but Republicans (64%) – particularly conservatives (72%) – are largely in favor of the President taking that action, according to CNN Polling released last week.
CNN POLL CONDUCTED BY SSRS
Jan. 30-Feb. 2
Should Trump Declare
Emergency to Build Wall?
The question asked: "Do you think Donald Trump should or should not declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the border with Mexico?"
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking from the floor, said President Trump will sign the spending bill, but also indicated that he would be issuing a national emergency declaration.
McConnell said a vote should happen shortly.
Here's what McConnell said:
"I've just had an opportunity to speak with President Trump, and he would, I would say to all my colleagues, has indicated that he's prepared to sign the bill. He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time. And I've indicated to him that I'm going to prepare -- I'm going to support the national emergency declaration. So for all of my colleagues, the President will sign the bill. We'll be voting on it shortly."
A White House official said aides are still reviewing the spending bill.
"One thousand pages filed in the in middle of the night take a little time to go through," the aide said.
The White House is still vetting the massive spending deal that was released late Wednesday and is trying to get several questions answered, according to several Republican senators and aides.
GOP senators said they would like to get assurances that President Trump will sign the bill if it gets to his desk, possibly later today.
“We’d like to know it’s a bill the President is going to sign. Hopefully they will let us know,” said Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking GOP leader as he left a Republican conference lunch where the issue was discussed at length.
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, said getting sign off before a vote would “make a big difference.”
“Nobody wants to enter into a pointless exercise if the President is going to veto it,” Kennedy said. “There are a lot of people, myself included, who would like to know what the President thinks.”
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford said there are about four outstanding issues the White House is questioning.
“Obviously, the White House is going through it, reading it, the same thing we are,” he said. “We just got it at midnight last night. We are just 14 hours into a 1,000 pages.”
“Every time there is a question that comes up, they try to identify why is this in here, what does this mean, how does it affect other parts," Lankford added,
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, echoed those who thought it would be good to get the President’s approval before a vote.
“Waiting to see what the President is thinking,” Johnson told CNN. “Doesn’t make much sense to support something he’s going to veto.”
Meanwhile, senators in both parties wait for a notification for votes on the long-stalled spending package. Even Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican in the talks, said he doesn’t know when a vote will happen.
“We hope sometime this afternoon. The leader hasn’t told us. The earlier the better,” he said.