President Donald Trump's decision to declare a national emergency in order to free up funds for a border wall with Mexico is really... something. Not only are several lawmakers against it, but it's also going to cost some money. How much does a national emergency cost, you ask? It's a hefty price tag, for sure.
On Monday, March 25, the Pentagon authorized $1 billion in military personnel funding to begin building a 57-mile fence and other measures at the U.S. southern border, according to CNN. Per the outlet, this is the first $1 billion the Trump administration has made available for wall funding, but it might not be the last, as the administration previously shared plans to allocate an additional $1.5 billion some time in the future. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication. If you're doing the math here, that could be $2.5 billion. Yikes. Previously, the president wanted $5.7 billion for the wall, but the national emergency will allow him to dip into funds from various sources for a total of about $8 billion, per USA Today. Declaring a national emergency allows a president to reallocate certain funds from defense spending in order to deal with the emergency in question.
In an email to Elite Daily, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense (DOD) said that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers had been instructed to begin planning and executing $1 billion worth of support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). "These funds will be used to support DHS's request to build 57 miles of 18-foot-high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border in support of the February 15 national emergency declaration on the southern border of the United States," the email said.
Of course, it's still not certain. On Tuesday, March 26, the House will vote on whether to override Trump's veto of a congressional resolution killing his national emergency. However, the Associated Press reported that the vote will likely fail, as it takes a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a presidential veto. “The president will be fine in the House,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told the AP. “The veto will not be overridden.”
If it goes the way McCarthy says it will, according to the AP, Trump will then be able to appropriate $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build his barrier. But the funds might not immediately be available to him, as legal battles could draw the issue out, perhaps even for years.
Previously, the president had requested $5.7 billion for the wall, which Democrats refused, instead offering him $1.3 billion for fencing and barriers. Because of that, he decided to call a national emergency back in February. According to CNN, he's trying to redirect more than $6 billion for the wall, for a total of $8 billion. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on the president's reported plans to appropriate funding, but did not hear back. It's a move that has been strongly criticized, including by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who said in a joint statement on Feb. 15 that the declaration was "unlawful" and a "power grab" by Trump. The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's previous request for comment on the statement. The statement said in part:
The President’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation. This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process.
At this point, it looks like things have worked out in Trump's favor. But will things stay this way? Stay tuned for how Tuesday's vote goes and what other funds the president might get going forward.