A budget deal to keep the government open passed the Senate this afternoon, after President Trump told Sen. Mitch McConnell he’d sign it and then declare a national emergency to fully fund a border wall. The $333 billion deal to keep on the job 800,000 federal workers at six federal agencies contains $1.375 billion for a 55-mile steel fence. Trump had made a “beautiful wall,” estimated to cost $5.7 billion and running across 230 miles of border, part of his 2016 campaign platform. According to Santa Barbara Rep. Salud Carbajal’s office, Trump intends to pull the funding from the Pentagon, which saw an $82 billion increase this year over 2017’s funding, according to the Washington Post, or $716 billion for 2019.
The House is expected to pass the legislation this evening. The president has promised to sign it, said Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who interrupted Sen. Charles Grassley mid-speech to announce a deal had been reached and to begin the Senate voting process.
Trump will raid a $16 billion pot of not-yet-obligated military construction, Carbajal’s office stated in a press release, and another $14 billion in funding for Army Corps civil works projects to raise the wall financing.
“After failing to get Mexico and now Congress to pay for his wall, the president is now attempting to exploit our military resources and disaster recovery funds to fulfill a campaign promise to his base,” said Carbajal. “The president’s declaration is not just bad policy, it’s illegal.” Carbajal intends to vote for the spending bill as another federal shutdown would otherwise begin at the end of Friday. The previous standoff lasted a painful 35 days and had federal workers standing in free-food lines.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Carbajal said, “I look forward to providing oversight on this ill-considered decision,” which he called a “terrible precedent.” The congressmember also was concerned about the effect on emergency funding: “Fabricating a national emergency to divert substantial funding from wildfire victims in California and our military readiness operations is not befitting of a commander in chief.”
The House has another tactic up its sleeve, the Washington Post reported. A disapproval resolution can overturn a declaration of a national emergency. Carbajal’s office indicated Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX 20th) had already introduced such a resolution. Should it pass, McConnell would be required to introduce it in the Senate, according to the Post. Another obstacle presumably is that the Constitution grants appropriation rights solely to Congress.