According to USA Today, the Pentagon is preparing for the potential construction of a border wall amid the ongoing government shutdown.
“The Department of Defense is reviewing available authorities and funding mechanisms to identify options to enable border barrier construction,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Speaks in a statement. “As there has not been such a declaration made, it would be inappropriate to comment further on those efforts.”
President Trump is currently considering declaring a state of national emergency, should Democrats continue refusing to meet his demands for a $5.7 billion border wall. Backing for the wall would pull from Pentagon funds for military construction and family housing if Trump follows through.
“I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will,” Trump told reporters on Thursday before departing for his PR trip to Texas. “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”
Would securing funding for the wall under the cloak of a national emergency really be that straightforward? The answer, simply, is no.
First, Trump would have to persuade Pentagon lawyers that the situation at the border is truly dire enough to constitute an immediate threat, as opposed to a matter of general law enforcement. “If we had intelligence that an army was massing on our southern border that would clearly be a national emergency,” said Todd Harrison, an expert on military budget at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, per USA Today. “That’s clearly not the case here.”
There’s also the concern over eminent domain, which legal experts believe Trump will not be able to waive. Previous attempts to seize land along the Texas border have resulted in decades of court battles, many of which remain unresolved.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that if Trump attempts to circumvent Congress by calling a national emergency, he will have to answer to his own party for “usurping” his power. Trump cited Republicans as being unified in support of the possibility, but several Republican senators have expressed their growing concern over the impact of the present government shutdown.