An internal report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says President Donald Trump has the legal authority to use Pentagon resources to build his border wall without first obtaining congressional approval and without having to declare a state of emergency.
Congress’ in-house research arm noted in an internally published paper Jan. 10 titled, “Can the Department of Defense Build the Border Wall?” that, “Another statute that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to assist civilian law enforcement with counterdrug activities may provide some authority for the construction of barriers along the border.”
The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the paper.
“10 U.S.C. § 284 (Section 284) provides that the Secretary of Defense ‘may provide support for the counterdrug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime’ of any law enforcement agency, including through the ‘(c)onstruction of roads and fences and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States,'” the paper states.
“Use of Section 284 would not require a declaration of a national emergency under the NEA.”
But, the CRS paper continued, “the DOD’s Section 284 authority to construct fences appears to extend only to ‘drug smuggling corridors,’ a condition that may limit where DOD could deploy fencing.”
That said, one congressional aide told The Daily Caller that “drug smuggling corridors” are not legally defined in the law.
POTUS Trump said earlier this month he was considering using an emergency declaration in order to bypass Congress and obtain funding for portions of a border wall after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) steadfastly refused to allow any spending bill to come to the House floor containing such funding.
Some lawmakers have urged the president not to go that route, however, noting that a Democratic president could do the same thing in the future, which could lead to abuses of power by the Executive Branch.
On Friday at the White House, the president announced a deal between lawmakers and the administration on a stop-gap funding measure that reopens shuttered government agencies for 21 days.
POTUS said that will give Congress time to negotiate a funding measure that keeps the government open and provides him with some of his requested border wall funds. He was clear, however, that if he did not get those funds he would let the government shut down again and may use his authority to declare an emergency to build the wall.
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