There’s great news for people who would rather that the US government didn’t shutdown again following the disasterous efforts earlier this year: President Donald Trump has reportedly agreed to sign a bipartisan bill letting it stagger along as its currently doing – even though that bill doesn’t contain the US$5.7 billion he’s demanding to build a wall across the border with Mexico.
Also, in related news, he plans to declare a national emergency so he can build a wall across the border with Mexico.
“I had an opportunity to speak with President Trump and he, I would say to all my colleagues, has indicated he’s prepared to sign the bill,” explained Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. “He’ll also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time. I indicated to him I’m going to support the national emergency declaration.”
Now, historically national emergencies don’t follow timetables laid out for months in advance, and also tend to have emergency-is sort of things around them. Like natural disasters, for example, which Trump hasn’t had a brilliant track record with. Isn’t that right, US protectorate Puerto Rico?
A national emergency gives the president the opportunity to appropriate funding from other sources without having to go through the usual congressional oversight. In theory this allows the government to act more swiftly than it would otherwise be able to; in practice… well, we’ll see.
The argument is that there’s a crisis at the Mexican border with undocumented immigration and drug smuggling. These claims have been debunked – most drug smuggling happens at airports, most “illegal immigration” is visa overstayers, and the biggest issue with US drug abuse is prescription opioids – but The Wall was part of Trump’s election pitch and damn it, he’s very into the idea.
Also, as we’ve mentioned before, that whole “…and Mexico will pay for it” part but has long since been abandoned, with Donnie even claiming he never said it.
There’s also a very good chance that the Democrats – who control the House in Congress – will launch court action on the grounds that there’s no visible emergency justifying the crisis. The Department of Justice has confirmed that such a declaration would be locked up in the courts for months, so that’s a thing.
Also, just to be clear, $5.7 billion doesn’t come close to paying for the wall. Even the most optimistic estimates are in the low twenty-billions, without taking into account the legal hurdles to acquire the land along the border, the infrastructure required to support construction, and building those lift-things like they have in Game Of Thrones where Trump presumably got the idea.
Trump will also need to explain exactly which powers he plans to invoke and where the money is coming from. He’s already indicated that much will be taken from the military budget, which seems politically risky, although he’s also suggested that funds earmarked for disaster relief might be redirected too.
Which, again, Puerto Rico’s not exactly chuffed about – and neither are some of Trump’s own party members, like senator Marco Rubio.
So, to recap: Trump’s claim about a national emergency will face a well-grounded legal challenge and isn’t supported by everyone in his own party, it’ll involve vague amounts of money being taken from other departments which will create more questions and objections and it will be insufficient in any case, and is being done in order to solve a problem that doesn’t seem to exist.