It increasingly appeared possible that Trump, who repeatedly has threatened to declare a state of emergency, may use the visit to determine whether to take that extraordinary step.
The National Emergencies Act grants the president broad authority to declare emergencies, and several federal laws then could clear a path for the White House to move ahead with building a wall.
One statute, 33 U.S. Code § 2293 – “Reprogramming during national emergencies,” permits the president to “apply the resources of the Department of the Army’s civil works program, including funds, personnel, and equipment, to construct or assist in the construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of authorized civil works, military construction, and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense.”
Another law, 10 U.S. Code § 2808 – “Construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency,” permits the secretary of defense, in a presidentially declared emergency, to use “funds that have been appropriated for military construction” for the purpose of undertaking “military construction projects.”
Although most top Republicans backed Trump on Wednesday — with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., calling Trump’s remarks “a firm commitment to reopening the government while also securing our southern border” — there were some signs that not all Republicans were aligned with the White House.
GOP West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a member of the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee, dismissed Trump’s comments that the shutdown could go on for “years.” Seven Republicans voted in favor of a Democratic bill to end the shutdown last week without funding for a border wall, and more have come out suggesting that they will back individual bills to fund certain agencies in the federal government without wall funding.
But, any defections were few and far between, Republican leaders insisted.
“Quite frankly, I see no wavering,” North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday.
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