By Grace Baldino, online editor

At 10:02 am on February 15, 2019, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency. There have been 58 declarations of state of emergency since 1976.

Friday’s announcement follows passage of a 1,169-page spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fences along the border in Texas, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for 234 miles of steel walls. The White House announced that the President seeks $8 billion in total.

In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts. This includes taking money out of a budget aimed at improving military bases.

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee we authorize billions of dollars to improve our bases every year,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an Iraq War veteran, wrote on Twitter. “That money is to build facilities to recruit, train and retain the worlds best military. A fake national emergency takes money from that mission.”

“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” the two Democratic leaders said. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

The White House has identified where it plans to gain such funding.

  • About $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund
  • Up to $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense funds transferred for Support for Counterdrug Activities (Title 10 United States Code, section 284)
  • Up to $3.6 billion reallocated from Department of Defense military construction projects under the President’s declaration of a national emergency (Title 10 United States Code, section 2808)

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border and secure our great country.”