If Democrats will not grant funds for his wall on the southern U.S. border, President Donald Trump might declare a national emergency to help pay for the project, ABC News reported on Friday.
The president, when asked by ABC News' senior national correspondent Terry Moran during a press conference, acknowledged that he would consider declaring a national emergency to help get funds to build the wall "for the security of our country".
Trump did not elaborate on the details of such a process.
Multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that the White House is looking at possibly moving funds from the Department of Defense and other areas in an effort to skirt Congress.
One administration official described the current executive action under consideration as clearing the way for the construction of roughly 115 miles of new border wall strictly on land owned by DoD, which would make up roughly 5 percent of the more than 2,000-mile border.
Trump mentioned the prospect of using the military to build his wall in December, tweeting: “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall.”
But the president would likely face legal challenges if he opts to go that route, and the move is unlikely to sit well with some members of his own party.
“I don't think that this is a real possibility given the restrictions already in place on how money can and cannot be used,” Todd Harrison a defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies told ABC News. “It is against the law to use money for purposes other than it was appropriated without getting prior approval from Congress. I don't think declaring a national emergency would make a difference in this case, so I don't think their theory holds much water. Moreover, the president is likely to meet stiff resistance from defense hawks within his own party if he tries to use billions of dollars of military funding for something other than military purposes.”
However, Trump’s former Homeland Security advisers believes the move could be possible:
“The President has some limited authority to direct the Department of Defense to build portions of the barrier along the southern border," Tom Bossert, Trump's former Homeland Security adviser and current ABC News contributor said. "Depending on what approach he takes, every option available to him comes with some structural constraints and will be met with congressional opposition and legal action — even the very rare emergency authority that has garnered debate this week. Unless Congress acts, there is seemingly a significant limit to the amount of wall Department of Defense could build."