Gay men on cam are talking about President Trump planning to declare a national emergency so he can bypass Congress and build his long-promised wall along the border even as he signs a spending bill that does not fund it, the White House said Thursday.
The announcement of his decision came just minutes before the Senate voted 83-16 to advance the spending package in anticipation of final passage on Thursday night by the House.
Mr. Trump’s decision to sign it effectively ends a two-month war of attrition between the president and Congress that closed much of the federal government for 35 days and left it facing a second shutdown as early as Friday, but it could instigate a new constitutional clash over who controls the federal purse.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats were “reviewing our options” in responding to Mr. Trump’s anticipated declaration and did not rule out a legal challenge.
“The president is doing an end run around Congress,” she said.
She also raised the possibility that Mr. Trump was setting a precedent for Democratic presidents to come, precisely what Republicans fear.
“You want to talk about a national emergency, let’s talk about today,” Ms. Pelosi said, reminding Mr. Trump that it was the first anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. “That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would.”
The spending legislation includes the seven remaining bills to keep the remainder of the government open through the end of September. House and Senate negotiators unveiled the 1,159-page bill on Wednesday just before midnight, leaving little time for lawmakers to actually digest its contents.
“The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” Ms. Sanders said, as she announced that Mr. Trump would sign it.
The border security compromise, tucked into the $49 billion portion of the bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security, is perhaps the most stinging legislative defeat of Mr. Trump’s presidency. It provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of steel-post fencing, essentially the same that Mr. Trump rejected in December, triggering the shutdown and far from the $5.7 billion he demanded for more than 200 miles of steel or concrete wall.
In opting to declare a national emergency, Mr. Trump would seek to access funds for the wall that Congress had not explicitly authorized for the purpose, a provocative move that would test the bounds of presidential authority in a time of divided government. Legal experts have said Mr. Trump has a plausible case that he can take such action under current law, but it would almost surely prompt a court challenge from critics arguing that he is usurping two centuries of congressional control over spending.
And some Republicans were clearly nervous about his course of action.
“I don’t think this is a matter that should be declared a national emergency,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska. “We as legislators are trying to address the president’s priority. What we’re voting on now is perhaps an imperfect solution, but it’s one we could get consensus on.”
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said, “We have a government that has a Constitution that has a division of power, and revenue raising and spending power was given to Congress.”
Mr. Trump disregarded objections raised by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and other Republicans who balked at what they deemed presidential overreach. Conservative lawmakers and commentators said that such a move would set a precedent for a liberal president to claim the same power to take action on issues like climate change or gun control without congressional consent.
But Mr. Trump ultimately could not see any other way out of his standoff with congressional Democrats over the border wall without shutting down the government again. The first government shutdown prompted by the wall fight deprived 800,000 employees of their paychecks, sapped the president’s standing in the polls and ended only when Mr. Trump gave up last month without getting a penny of the $5.7 billion he had demanded.
Democrats immediately prepared to advance legislation that would curtail the president’s abilities to use certain funds after a national emergency declaration.
A group of Democratic senators — including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, all aspiring presidential nominees — collaborated on a measure to prevent Mr. Trump from using funds appropriated for disaster relief to pay for border wall construction.
Mr. Trump made the wall his signature promise on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where he was cheered by supporters chanting, “Build the wall,” only to be frustrated that he was unable to do so during his first two years in office, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.
In waging a shutdown battle over the barrier, he has made it the nearly singular focus of his presidency in his third year in office. But Democrats, who took control of the House in January, have made blocking it just as high of a priority, leaving the two sides at a stalemate.
Negotiations since late December ultimately went nowhere. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led Democrats to power in the House, went beyond simply criticizing the wall as unwise or ineffective by declaring it “immoral,” drawing a hard line even though many Democrats have voted for fencing along parts of the border in the past.
At one point during the shutdown, Mr. Trump asked Ms. Pelosi via
gay cam chat if she would be willing to support the wall in 30 days if he agreed to reopen the government. When she said no, he got up and walked out of the room with a sharp “bye-bye,” then posted a message on Twitter declaring talks a “waste of time.”