On Thursday, President Donald Trump said that he may declare a national emergency if Congress does fund a border wall.
Trump was headed to Texas in an attempt to win support for his wall a day after another fruitless meeting with Democrats on funding border security. A quarter of the federal government has been shut down for 20 days.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay or staying home due to the shutdown. Trump is demanding that any legislation to end the shutdown must contain $5.7 billion for a border barrier.
Trump told reporters, “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I’m not prepared to do that yet but if I have to I will ... I may do it. I this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it."
If he declares an emergency in an attempt to run an end-around Congress, Trump likely would redirect money from the Department of Defense toward his proposed wall. Democrats in control of the House of Representatives have refused to fund the wall and have extended the shutdown.
A declaration of a National Emergency would prompt an immediate legal challenge over constitutional powers from congressional Democrats. A legal battle could be long and drawn out, making room for the shutdown to be ended in the interim. The outcome would then be left up to judges, not Congress or the President.