by Dr. Eowyn
Yesterday afternoon, the AP reported that “The White House confirms that President Donald Trump will sign a bill averting a potential partial government shutdown at the end of the week.”
At the same time, “Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will also take ‘other executive action — including a national emergency’ as he seeks to keep his border wall pledge.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed that Trump would quickly declare a national emergency, so as to divert money from other budget projects into building the southern border wall.
According to Ann Coulter, however, by signing the budget deal, Donald Trump has signed away his right as commander in chief to build a wall.
On the Lars Larson radio show yesterday, Coulter said (beg. 1:00 mark):
“It’s over…. I’ve been one saying since November 8, ‘Hey, you’re commander in chief. You have always had authority to build the wall. That is part of your job description.‘ They’ve talked about national emergency, and his special emergency powers, whether he uses that or not, he’s the commander in chief and his job is to keep America safe.
But now, he signed a bill in which he has signed those powers away. The bill that he signed prohibits any part of the wall going any place on our border. It allows not the prototypes, not a wall, but some gentle pedestrian bollard fencing, in one small section, the Santa Fe section, but only if the local authorities agree….
It’s worse than amnesty — it’s a pre-approved amnesty. You may not be deported if an ‘unaccompanied child’ is a member of your household. This will put human smuggling into overdrive. You could be an MS-13 member, anyone, any illegal in this country, just get a kid in the household, just traffick that child across the border, you got amnesty! That’s the bill he signed.
They’ll try to go to the Supreme Court and say, ‘Hey, I’m Commander In Chief! It’s my job to defend America!’. And the Supreme Court will say, ‘That’s funny, because whose signature is this on a bill that says the commander in chief isn’t allowed to build a wall? Whose John Hancock is on this?’
He has just signed away his inherent powers under the Constitution. It is over. There will not be a fence, there will not be a wall, there will not be a garden trellis, and there will be mass amnesty and open borders like you’ve never seen before. The country’s over, there’s no point to what you do, there’s no point to what I do, there’s no point to listening to this radio show because the whole country goes the way of California. America was nice while it lasted, but they outmaneuvered us, the people who wanted to destroy this country….
This bill passed the United States Senate 83 to 16. I understand some of the Democrats voted against it, so it won’t be held against them, they can’t be blamed for open borders. You know who can be? The guy who put his John Hancock on the bill — Donald Trump. Full open borders like something Hillary Clinton couldn’t have gotten through.”
So, is Ann Coulter correct in her assertions?
In seeking to confirm/disconfirm what Coulter said, I tried to find the primary source — the budget deal itself.
Infuriatingly, I couldn’t find a link to, or even the name of the budget deal in any of the news reports on the agreement. So I went to Congress.gov, and found the budget agreement among the 31 bill texts that Congress.gov received yesterday.
This is what H.J.Resolution 31: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, which was passed by both the House and the Senate, and presented to President Trump today, says, which confirms what Ann Coulter said:
(1) Effective amnesty, i.e., no deportation, for illegals with an unaccompanied child:
Title II, Sec. 224. (a) None of the funds provided by this Act or any other Act, or provided from any accounts in the Treasury of the United States derived by the collection of fees available to the components funded by this Act, may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential
sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child (as defined in section 462(g) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 279(g))) based on information shared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
(2) No wall, but only pedestrian fencing may be built on the border:
Title II. Sec. 230. (a) Of the total amount made available under “U.S. Customs and Border Protection–Procurement, Construction, and Improvements”,$2,370,222,000 shall be available only as follows:
(1) $1,375,000,000 is for the construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fencing, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;
Sec. 230. (b) The amounts designated in subsection (a)(1) shall only be available for operationally effective designs deployed as of the date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (Public Law 115-31), such as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety.
(3) Not even pedestrian fencing in these areas:
Sec. 231. None of the funds made available by this Act or prior Acts are available for the construction of pedestrian fencing–
(1) within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge;
(2) within the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park;
(3) within La Lomita Historical park;
(4) within the National Butterfly Center; or
(5) within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
(4) Construction of pedestrian border fencing is subject to local authorities’ approval (which means there won’t even be pedestrian fencing in places like California):
Sec. 232. (a) Prior to use of any funds made available by this Act for the construction of physical barriers within the city limits of any city or census designated place described in subsection (c), the Department of Homeland Security and the local elected officials of such a city or census designated place shall confer and seek to reach mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers within that city or the census designated place (as the case may be). Such consultations shall continue until September 30, 2019 (or until agreement is reached, if earlier) and may be extended beyond that date by agreement of the parties, and no funds made available in this Act shall be used for such construction while consultations are continuing.
Sec. 232. (c) The cities and census designated place described in this subsection are as follows:
(1) Roma, Texas.
(2) Rio Grande City, Texas.
(3) Escobares, Texas.
(4) La Grulla, Texas.
(5) The census designated place of Salineno, Texas.
While what Ann Coulter said about the budget deal — the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 — is true, does this mean that by signing the bill, President Trump effectively signed away his right as commander in chief to build a border wall?
Certainly, for Trump not to sign the bill would mean another government shut down — and government shut down has shown itself to be ineffective in pressuring the Demonrats to allocate the $5+ billion Trump wants to build the wall. But by signing the bill, Trump in effect agrees to the bill’s provisions, including its stipulation that the funds Congress has allocated for border security can only be spent on pedestrian fencing, instead of a wall.
But that doesn’t mean President Trump can’t muster funds outside of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 to build the wall, on the grounds of national emergency. Whether that will work remains to be seen.
H/t Auntie Lulu