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Trump Declares National Emergency For Southern Border Wall Funding


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we're going to be signing today and registering national emergency.


Today at the White House, the president declared a national emergency in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The president's announcement comes the day after Congress approved a spending bill that provided a fraction of the wall funding that the White House had asked for.


TRUMP: It's a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people. And it's unacceptable.


Overall, border crossings are near a 20-year low. Most drug smugglers and human traffickers are apprehended at ports of entry - not at the areas where a barrier would be constructed. And even as he declared a national emergency, the president said doing so was optional.


TRUMP: I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.

CORNISH: The White House says the declaration will allow the president to tap into more than $3 billion from the Pentagon's budget that had already been appropriated for military construction projects. Now Defense officials will have to determine which construction projects should be canceled or put on hold so that the money can be diverted to a border barrier. Trump said U.S. military officers are on board with all of this.


TRUMP: And some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said, what were you going to use it for? And I won't go into details but didn't sound too important to me.

KELLY: Democrats are not on board with this emergency declaration. In a joint statement, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called it, quote, "an unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist."

CORNISH: Several Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, expressed concern about presidential overreach. In a statement, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said the declaration was, quote, "unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution." And as Trump noted today, he'll likely be challenged in court.


TRUMP: And we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit even though it shouldn't be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling. And then we'll end up in the Supreme Court. And hopefully, we'll get a fair shake. And we'll win in the Supreme Court. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.