Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to bypass Congress and secure funding for his border wall with Mexico, a move that Democrats vowed to challenge as unconstitutional. Mr Trump announced the controversial move from the Rose Garden on Friday and is expected to use the powers to appropriate around $8 billion (£6 billion) in funds from the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury and the Department of Defence. Mr Trump has long floated the idea of declaring a national emergency, which would give him extra powers to unilaterally move around funds, as a way of circumventing Congress and ensuring he could deliver his campaign promise to build a Mexico border wall. However the prospect of a lengthy battle in America’s courts – a legal challenge is all but inevitable – and vocal opposition from scores of Republican senators was thought to have convinced Mr Trump not to go down that path. Donald Trump will no doubt face legal challenges Credit: AP Even Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, had criticised the idea publicly, saying last month: “I don’t think much of that idea.” A number of Republicans condemned the move ahead of the announcement. “No crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said on Twitter on Thursday. Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters on Capitol Hill he had concerns about an emergency declaration. He said it “would not be a practical solution, because there would be a lawsuit filed immediately and the money would be presumably balled up.” Democrats in a number of states, including California and New York, look set to launch legal challenges as soon as Mr Trump makes his announcement. But Mr Trump had also come under criticism from leading right-wing US figures over a compromise deal that had been struck between Republican and Democrat congressmen this week. The US president had demanded $5.7 billion for more than 200 miles of wall along the US-Mexico border. That demand had led to a 35-day government shutdown, the longest in US history, before it reopened for three weeks of talks. But the new agreement included just $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new border barriers. Furthermore the barrier would be fencing rather than a concrete wall, as Mr Trump had once envisioned. Sean Hannity, a Fox News presenter who is close to the president, had dubbed the agreement a “garbage compromise”. Mark Meadows, the Republican congressman who leads the influential Freedom Caucus, had also been critical. A vote on legislation enshrining the agreement took place in the US Senate on Thursday afternoon. Mr Trump must sign the bill by midnight on Friday to avoid yet another government shutdown. By signing the bill and declaring a national emergency, Mr Trump would both avoid another shutdown – which he risked being blamed for – and be able to show his supporters that he is still building the border wall. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House speaker, said she may launch a legal challenge and warned the move would create “great unease and dismay” among her party. “It is not an emergency, what is happening at the border,” Ms Pelosi said, calling the claim an “illusion”. She insisted that the constitution gave the “power of the purse” to Congress, appearing to question whether Mr Trump was overstepping his powers.
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