CAN HE DO THAT? A Wallsplainer!
YEAH, HE CAN PROBABLY DO IT. He's probably going to raid funds set aside for military construction and housing to build his stupid Fuck You Mexico monument. Our best hope is to tie this shit up in the courts until 2021, when we send his flabby ass packing off to Florida permanently, God willing and the crick don't rise. Sorry it's not better news.
OMG, What Is Even Happening?
Well, earlier this week, Congress hammered out a compromise budget and crossed their fingers hoping that Sean Hannity would sign off on it and not shut the government down again. Looks like that goat they sacrificed in the Senate cloakroom must have done the trick, because the government will remain open. But everything has a price, and President Couch Potato refused to sign unless Mitch McConnell agreed to support a national emergency declaration for WALL. So Yertle inched back to the Senate where he interrupted a pissed-off Chuck Grassley to announce the joyous news that their party had WON! Or, you know, "won." Not only did they get their budget blessed by the Dear Leader, they also were getting a shiny new usurpation of congressional authority, HOORAY! Literally no one was fooled -- they all knew McConnell had gotten played, and they were about to be yanked ever deeper into the cold abyss. Which is what happens when you lash your party to a giant sea demon racing toward the bottom of an ocean of corruption. You pays your money, and you takes your chances.
But There Is NO EMERGENCY!
Well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion man. Also, too, it's objectively true. Border crossings are at a 20-year low, immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, the economy is at full employment, and our agriculture and construction industries are totally dependent on immigrant laborers who'll do unpleasant, dangerous jobs on the cheap.
The only emergency is the one Trump himself created by insisting we had to incarcerate asylum-seekers and steal their babies as a deterrent to legal immigration. But we're talking about a party that looks at Trump's campaign manager handing granular polling data over to the Russians and reflexively shouts NO COLLUSION! like a pack of trained seals. They're not going to let a little thing like "reality" get in the way!
Craven whores gonna craven whore.
The National Emergencies Act gives the president the authority to declare a state of emergency to reallocate funds budgeted for other purposes. Under 10 U.S. Code § 2808, Trump can raid military construction money -- including money for family housing on bases -- and use it for emergency military purposes, like paying to send the National Guard to the southern border to string razor wire. Under 33 U.S. Code § 2293, he can "terminate or defer the construction, operation, maintenance, or repair of any Department of the Army civil works project that he deems not essential to the national defense."
According to ABC's Jonathan Karl, Trump is going to take $3 billion in funds allocated to drug interdiction and $3.5 billion from military construction, in addition to the money Congress gave him today for fencing.
Don't worry you guys, because Trump has promised that WALL will stop all the drugs coming into the country. And the army is only too delighted to have its families live with mold, rats, and lead paint if it means Trump gets to make (sort of) good on some crazy shit he shouted to the rubes on the campaign trail. Mexico will pay ... --ish.
JFC, Can't We Sue Him to Stop It?
Lots of people are going to try! House Democrats are contemplating suing over infringement of their constitutional spending authority or the use of funds for purposes not allocated, border state landowners will fight any attempt to seize their property, green groups will contest the barrier's environmental impact, military contractors might have standing to fight the cancellation of contracts, and California is raring to ask for an injunction in the 9th Circuit. And maybe they'll succeed. Unfortunately, the law vests almost unfettered discretion to declare an emergency in the president. So courts may wade in to the issue of whether Trump has the authority to tap these specific pots of money under the statute or whether Trump can, say, build a concrete barrier when Congress has specifically forbidden it, but they are unlikely to adjudicate the propriety of the emergency declaration itself. Our government is simply not set up for a Chief Executive so erratic, lazy, and bone fucking stupid, and the wheels are starting to come off.
WTF, Can't Congress Stop Him?
Well, yeah, they could ... All the usual suspects have trotted out their brow-furrowing, lip-biting, tut-tutting act for the cameras. Marco says it's a "bad idea," Susan calls it a "mistake," Rand is "not really for it," Chuck "wish[es] he wouldn't have done it," and Lamar says it's "unnecessary."
If Congress thinks the president pulled the fire alarm for no reason, the National Emergency Act allows them to vote to cancel the declaration. Speaker Pelosi will likely put forward a resolution to terminate this shitshow, which should pass the House without difficulty, forcing McConnell to bring it up for a vote in the Senate. At which point, all those concerned Gippers will have to put up or shut up -- and we're betting shut up, maybe with a little biblical flourish from Li'l Marco. But even if they did grow a pair and vote against it, Trump has threatened to veto any resolution canceling his BS WALL emergency, meaning it would require two-thirds of each House to override. And isn't achieving maximum liberal tears in and of itself in the national interest?
Good Lord! So, Now What?
Now we scream bloody murder. Everybody and their mother sues the Trump administration, hoping for a win, or at least to throw enough sand in the gears that he can't get shovels in the ground. We force Republicans to walk the plank and vote to support the president on this wildly unpopular emergency declaration, which is favored by only 24 percent of voters. And if the GOP falls in line behind this naked power grab, then make it as expensive as possible for them going into 2020. All while reminding the world that gun violence and climate change are actual emergencies which a future Democratic president might want to combat using any legal precedent arising from these disputes. And when we take back power, we never again shy away from doing whatever it takes to implement our agenda because Democrats "respect political norms."
THIS AIN'T A PILLOW FIGHT, IT'S A FUCKING WAR.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.