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The Federal Government Gets Funded, But a New "Emergency" Awaits

With only hours to spare before a continuing resolution (CR) funding major portions of the federal government is set to expire, Congress and the President seem to have come to an agreement over border security funding. The $333 billion funding bill passed in both the House and Senate on Thursday evening, and the President signed it into law Friday. Because House Democrats remained staunch in their position not to fund the President’s $5.7 billion border wall request (the spending deal includes $1.375 billion for fencing and barriers around the border with Mexico) President Trump has declared immigration at the southern border a national emergency. The move, though “of dubious constitutionality,” as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) suggested, could allow the President to redirect certain emergency funds toward building the controversial border wall that was a core feature of his 2016 campaign.

A national emergency declaration gives Presidents significant leeway in taking unilateral actions to protect the nation until Congress chooses/is able to or in place of congressional action. Governed by many smaller, ad-hoc statutes rather than one authorizing law, presidential actions under a national emergency can include options as varied as military maneuvers, limiting trade or imposing sanctions, or reallocating funding previously appropriated by Congress. With this emergency declaration, President Trump is expected to redirect money from available a pool of about $13 billion available in flexible Pentagon funding.

Due to their reactionary and often extreme nature, national emergency declarations are particularly open to legal challenge, which is certainly expected with this immigration declaration: appropriators, and especially Democrats, in the House and Senate, immigration reform/immigrants rights organizations, and even property owners along the border are likely to oppose the impending Presidential action and to hold up its enactment in the court system. Even if the debate over the border wall is far from over, at least the government should stay open through fiscal year 2019.

Check back regularly with AIDS United’s Policy Update for all the latest on funding and policies affecting people living with and vulnerable to HIV.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, February 15, 2019

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