The US Government has shut down this winter. This usually happens when Congress cannot agree on a certain budget criterion or the president refuses to sign it. Such a situation happened on the 22nd of December, leaving 800 000 government workers without pay or temporary leave absence.
Mr. Trump has demanded funding for the US-Mexico wall, a total of $5.6 billion, but the Democrats refuse to agree on his terms. This is the third partial shutdown under his precedence, and it might amount to become the longest in decades.
Trump and the Democratic Party are engaging in talks and on Saturday which ended with “productive discussions.” The talks will resume today but there is currently little sign of any breakthrough. The President has said he is prepared for the shutdown to last months or even years – this after he said: “I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing.” “I don’t call it a shutdown, I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and safety of our country.” Mr. Trump has also stated that he could engage a national emergency and build his proposed wall without Congresses approval.
In such a situational, if the President declared a national emergency, he would effectively secure military funding for his promised border wall. The US law provides provisions which allow the President to direct military construction project during times of national emergency but adequately absorbing the Defence Department’s funds. This is by no means the preferred solution for any of the parties, but it is a nevertheless a solution to end the partial shutdown and the series of continuous meetings between lawmakers. I think if the president made such a move to secure funding, the administration would likely face lawsuits questioning the legal aspects of such a move. The Democrats could effectively block the construction of the border wall with a ‘wall’ of court filings.
One could argue that declaring a national emergency should only be done when the country faces immediate threats, such as war or national disasters. Therefore, asserting the Presidential powers in this situation would likely lead to a court hearing. The Presidents remarks of declaring a national emergency is simply another negotiation tool but ultimately a bluff.
Alternatively, the president has the right and legal support of the constitution to declare a national emergency and start with the border wall project – is the current situation not to be called a national emergency?
According to the BBC the shutdown as escalated with about 25% of the US federal government not receiving funding and workers going unpaid. Therefore, it will be crucial for the partial shutdown to pass. If not, the situation will truly unarguably become a national emergency.