Donald Trump says he will sign the budget deal worked out by Congress to avoid a shutdown tonight but because he's not getting his wall money, he's now going the emergency declaration route after all with a Rose Garden announcement this morning.
The surprise announcement Thursday that President Donald Trump will use his emergency powers to try and build his border wall blindsided some Republicans, confused others and sent the Senate GOP into a general state of shock.
The news, delivered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, came after weeks of warnings from his own party not to declare a national emergency at the border.
Trump has decided to challenge Republicans’ resolve anyway — but he may not like the outcome. Aides privately predicted Trump will lose a vote on the Senate floor once the Democratic House passes a resolution of disapproval to block the move.
Meanwhile, the GOP Senate majority was casting about for answers.
“I wish he wouldn’t have done it,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who McConnell interrupted on the Senate floor to make his announcement. “If [Trump] figures that Congress didn’t do enough and he’s got to do it, then I imagine we’ll find out whether he’s got the authority to do it by the courts.”
“In general, I’m not for running the government by emergency, nor spending money. The Constitution's pretty clear: spending originates and is directed by Congress,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who like almost everyone else on Capitol Hill wants more information. “So I’m not really for it.”
Republicans that have previously panned the idea as setting a bad precedent for future presidents were careful in how they answered questions in the immediate aftermath of the president’s decision.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said it was a “bad idea” but needed to learn more. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said it was “unnecessary” because Trump has other ways of getting money but said he needed further guidance. And Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) fretted that it was a "dramatic expansion" of the emergency powers.
Others were blunter.
"It’s a mistake on the president’s part," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). "I also believe that it will be challenged in court. It undermines the role of Congress and the appropriations process.”
“I’m not enthusiastic about it, but I don’t know whether that’s actually going to happen, and if so, what follows from there. I don’t know what authority he may or may not invoke,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
If Trump goes down this road, it's going to be nothing but pain for the GOP, and they know it. We're looking at a fight that even the Roberts Court might bail on.
The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president's plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers, ABC News has learned.
However, a senior White House official tells ABC News that the administration is confident it could ultimately win the case on appeal.
Lawyers at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and at the Pentagon have been working for weeks to iron out different options the president would have to obtain funds for his border wall.
By declaring a national emergency at the border, the president could potentially free up billions of dollars to begin work on construction of a southern border wall. Much of that money would be pulled from the Department of Defense.
It won't be just House Democrats heading to court, either. California, New York, and a bevy of other blue states are expected to sue, and one of them will get an injunction.
Trump doesn't want to shut the government down again, he wants to be able to clearly blame the Democrats and the courts for not getting his wall built. This is the method he's using to do it. How much that will dupe his base, we'll see. They've put up with his failures for a while now, but this might be the straw that breaks the Trump regime's back.