Government shutdown ends; President Trump declares national emergency


The Easterner

By Nicolas Zerbe, Reporter

On Jan. 25, 2019, the government shutdown came to an end.

President Trump signed a stopgap bill that would reopen the government for a three-week period, according to a White House announcement, lasting until Feb. 15, when the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, was passed by Congress and signed by the president, funding the government until Sept. 30, 2019.

The biggest point of contention in the bill, the $5.7 billion that the president had hoped to allocate for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, was eventually negotiated down.

We have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and its unacceptable.”

— United States President Donald Trump

The signed bill instead leaves $1.375 billion for the wall, which he had originally hoped would fund more than 200 miles of steel or concrete barrier on the border.

The same day that the appropriations bill was passed, President Trump declared a national emergency, stating concerns over the safety of having unguarded borders between the two countries. The emergency declaration effectively bypasses the constraints put on him by Congress and gives him access to funds that surpass his originally asked for amounts in funding for the border wall.

The national emergency would give the president access to about $8 billion in all, according to the New York Times, as he will be able to divert funds from military construction projects, counternarcotics programs and the treasury department to go toward the wall’s construction.

“We have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and its unacceptable,” said Trump.

In his speech, Trump refers to other national emergencies put into place by previous presidents.

According to the New York Times, only two emergency declarations have been used by presidents to spend money without congressional approval, both being for military purposes. The first was by President George H. W. Bush shortly before the Persian Gulf War, and the second by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Since the president’s announcement, 16 states have filed lawsuits to stop the declaration. Several other organizations have also taken the fight to Trump.

Almost all of the lawsuits are concerned with the circumvention of Congress to fund the wall, stating an abuse of the emergency powers.

“I think everyone is concerned when you hear that $8 billion of money that you were expecting to come for other important programs is now going to be raided by the president to pay for a border wall which Congress specifically decided not to fund at the level the president wants,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to CNN. “I think every state should be worried.”