President Trump is set to hold an event at 10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House, where he is expected to sign spending legislation to avert a government shutdown while at the same declare a national emergency with the aim of securing about $6.5 billion more to build his long-promised border wall without congressional approval.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies have called the move ill-advised, and Democrats are promising immediate action aimed at blocking it. The declaration is expected to face an array of legal challenges, possibly including from congressional Democrats.
Friday’s planned announcement follows passage of a 1,169-page spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fences along the border in Texas, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for 234 miles of steel walls.
9 a.m.: Democrats warn of the dangers of taking money from military construction
As Trump prepared to announce a national emergency at the Mexican border, Democrats stepped up warnings about one of his planned funding sources to build new barriers: a military construction fund.
According to White House aides, Trump plans to tap about $3.6 billion from that fund in an effort to cobble together roughly $8 billion for wall and barrier construction.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee we authorize billions of dollars to improve our bases every year,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an Iraq War veteran, wrote on Twitter. “That money is to build facilities to recruit, train and retain the worlds best military. A fake national emergency takes money from that mission.”
8:30: Trump to tap funds from Treasury forfeiture account in an unprecedented way
The money that Trump is seeking to redirect to border-wall construction includes $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, an account that is fed by money seized by the U.S. government.
This money comes from a number of agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Secret Service.
By law, the money can be used to promote “the use of proceeds from asset forfeitures to fund programs and activities aimed at disrupting criminal enterprises and enhancing forfeiture capabilities.”
The fund has never been used, though, in the way Trump will attempt to use it for a wall along the Mexico border.
8:15 a.m.: Schatz highlights Trump’s plans for golf after declaring emergency
As Democrats push back against Trump’s plans for declaring a national emergency at the border, some are employing a little humor.
“Apparently this thing is such an emergency that it will immediately be followed by golf,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawii) wrote on Twitter.
He was referring to Trump’s plans to fly to Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday afternoon for a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Golf is frequently on the agenda on such trips.
8:10 a.m.: GOP seizes on O’Rourke’s comments about tearing down existing barriers
As Trump planned to speak about his plans for the border, Republicans were highlighting comments by former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) that he would tear down existing barriers.
O’Rourke, who is considering a 2020 presidential bid, said on MSNBC on Thursday that existing walls and fences “have not in any demonstrable way made us safer.”
Besides being costly, O’Rourke said, existing barriers have “pushed migrants and asylum seekers and refugees to the most inhospitable, the most hostile stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, ensuring their suffering and death.”
Several Republican lawmakers went on Twitter in response, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
“Give Beto O’Rourke points for honesty: he admits that he wants to tear down existing border walls & have totally open borders,” Cotton wrote. “At least he’ll say what most Democrat politicians believe.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) also weighed in.
“Correct me if I am wrong, but did Beto say he would tear down existing border fencing and walls?” Cornyn tweeted. “So he wants to make illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling easier?”
7:30 a.m.: Senior officials say Trump moving forward, prepared to veto legislative effort to block emergency declaration
During a call with supporters and surrogates Friday morning, White House officials said that eminent domain will be used aggressively to secure land needed to build the wall and much of the construction will be along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to a participant.
Russell Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that it will “shock” people how quickly the administration is moving toward contracting and construction, according to the participant, who requested anonymity to share a call not intended to be made public.
White House adviser Stephen Miller also participated in the call.
Vought also said that Trump would “absolutely veto” any legislative effort to block his declaration of a national emergency, according to the participant.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that he plans to introduce a resolution of disapproval that would overturn the declaration, calling it a “a gross abuse of power that cannot be tolerated.”
Under the National Emergencies Act, House passage of a disapproval resolution would trigger automatic consideration by the Senate, where a simple majority vote would be required to agree to it.
Given opposition from some Republicans, that raises the prospect that a disapproval resolution would pass the narrowly divided Senate in an embarrassing rebuke to Trump.
That would force him to veto the bill if he wants to move forward.
White house officials Stephen miller and Russ Vought told surrogates that eminent domain will be used aggressively, quick construction will “shock” Americans and much of the construction will be along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. There is an effort in place to make sure California does not have legal standing to sue the administration, the officials said.
7 a.m.: Trump seeking a total of roughly $8 billion for wall and barriers
The White House has identified roughly $8 billion that it believes can be used toward building walls and other barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts, according to government officials briefed on the strategy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a plan that has not been announced publicly.
Trump is eyeing about $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense drug interdiction program, according to the officials.
In addition, the president wants to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help build his border wall. The latter step would require declaring a national emergency.
6:45 a.m.: National emergency expected to draw a multitude of lawsuits
If Trump declares a national emergency to construct a wall on the southern border, only one thing is certain: There will be lawsuits. Lots of them. From California to Congress, the litigants will multiply.
They will file suit in numerous jurisdictions — certainly within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on the West Coast, in U.S. District Court in Washington and maybe even in New York. That’s been the pattern in the hundreds of lawsuits, many of them successful, brought against the Trump administration, the idea being that some judge somewhere will block the wall.
Read more here from The Post’s Fred Barbash, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey.
6:30 a.m.: Trump came close to allowing another shutdown
After three weeks of pained negotiations to keep the federal government open, Trump almost blew the whole thing up again on Thursday.
Headed for another defeat on his signature promise to make Mexico pay for a southern border wall, the president was frustrated after a briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others on details of the final deal to avoid a shutdown, according to officials involved in the discussions. Trump threatened not to sign the legislation, the officials said, putting the government on the brink of another damaging shutdown.
Read more here from The Post’s Robert Costa, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim.
Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade contributed to this report.