Pentagon Approves Plan to Shift $1.5B for Wall Along US-Mexico Border

The Pentagon has approved a plan to spend an additional $1.5 billion to build 80 more miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News Friday.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the re-allocation of funds, which were originally earmarked for support of Afghan security forces and other projects, to help pay for the wall along the southern border.

“Today, I authorized the transfer of $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 80 miles of border barrier,” he said. “The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness.”

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Trump declares national emergency to get border wall funding

President Donald Trump capped months of political drama Friday, announcing he’s signing a bill to fund the government, avoiding another government shutdown, while also taking the extraordinary action of declaring a national emergency to secure additional money for his proposed border wall that congressional Democrats refused to give him.

“I am going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said.

The president explained his highly controversial move in a Rose Garden announcement, saying “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other.”

 President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Feb. 15, 2019.

(Susan Walsh/AP) President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Feb. 15, 2019.

He said he was taking “critical actions” but “not because it was a campaign promise.”

“We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,” he explained.

But even as the president sought to cast the situation at the border as a national security and humanitarian crisis, he also made an admission that could be helpful to those mounting legal challenges to his action Friday.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” the president said, seeming to concede that a national emergency was avoidable.

The president asserted that he was not declaring an emergency because of the upcoming 2020 election, despite the fact that building a wall was his key campaign promise in 2016, but accused the Democrats of using the issue for campaigning purposes.

“And the only reason we’re up here talking about this is because of the election, because they want to try and win an election which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do, and this is one of the ways where they think they can possibly win — is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense — and I think that I just want to get it done faster that’s all,” he said.

As he spoke, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out a photo of the president signing the emergency declaration.


GOP/Dem Border Deal: $1.3B for Wall, No Increase in Detention Space

A Republican-Democrat border security deal that is expected to be offered to President Trump funds about $1.3 billion for a United States-Mexico border wall and includes no increase in detention space to control increasing illegal immigration at the border.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have announced that they have reached a deal on border wall funding to avoid a government shutdown. The deal, according to details by the Washington Post, includes about $1.3 billion in border wall funding — a fraction of the $5.7 billion that Trump had requested from Republicans and Democrats.

This funding is set to provide about 55 miles of new border wall along the roughly 2,000-mile long southern border. Much like the 2018 omnibus spending, which prevented Trump from building a border wall out of new materials, the deal is set to tack on stipulations as to what the barrier can be made from and where it can be placed.

Additionally, the deal keeps detention space for federal immigration officials to detain illegal aliens and border crossers at the same levels that have been funded over the last two years. The deal includes about 40,250 beds for immigration detention facilities, about 11,500 fewer beds than Trump had requested.

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US prepares to start building portion of Texas border wall

The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

Heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive starting Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. A photo posted by the nonprofit National Butterfly Center shows an excavator parked next to its property.

Congress last March approved more than $600 million for 33 miles (53 kilometers) of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley. While President Donald Trump and top Democrats remain in a standoff over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has pushed ahead with building what’s already funded.

That construction was often described as fencing, and the government funding bill that included construction was supported by some Democrats in the House and Senate. CBP refers to what it plans to build as a “border wall system.”

According to designs it released in September, CBP intends to build 25 miles (40 kilometers) of concrete walls to the height of the existing flood-control levee in Hidalgo County next to the Rio Grande, the river that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. On top of the concrete walls, CBP will install 18-foot (5.5-meter) steel posts and clear a 150-foot (45-meter) enforcement zone in front.

Maps released by CBP show construction would cut through the butterfly center, a nearby state park, and a century-old Catholic chapel next to the river.

Many landowners oppose a border wall and have vowed to fight the U.S. government if it tries to seize their property through eminent domain. Court fights over condemning land could take weeks if not months.

CBP said in its statement that it intends to start construction on federally owned land. Environmental advocates expect the government to use land that’s part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


Trump Promises “Very Long” Gov Shutdown If Wall Not Funded

President Trump said the government shutdown will happen if Democrats in the Senate do not vote for funding the US-Mexico border wall.

Trump warns that the “very long” shutdown will be entirely on them as both parties are locked in a negotiation stalemate, according to CNBC:

Parts of the government will close if Congress cannot pass seven spending bills by midnight Friday. As of the morning, lawmakers appeared far from breaking an impasse over whether to fund the barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.

House Republicans passed a bill Thursday night to keep the government running through Feb. 8 and put more than $5 billion toward the president’s wall. The Senate is expected to vote on, and reject, the legislation after it convenes at noon on Friday.

The GOP-controlled chamber already passed a temporary funding measure without wall money. Democrats, whose votes are needed to reach the necessary 60 in the Senate, have repeatedly said they will not approve funds for the barrier. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority.

Correspondingly, Trump set up a meeting with the Senate GOP while giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the green light to use the “nuclear option” against the Dems, Washington Times reports:

President Trump is set to meet Friday with Senate Republicans ahead of a vote that could partially shut down the government over border security funding, the White House said.

“President Trump will meet with Senate Republicans this morning at 10:30 to discuss the Funding Bill and the importance of Border Security,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Missing from the meeting are Senate Democrats who have vowed to oppose additional spending on border security.

Additionally, the government shutdown may happen as a new poll reveals that polarization in politics has reached levels that makes any compromise unlikely.


Watch: McConnell, Schumer Spar Over Border Wall Funding Amid Government Shutdown

Republican and Democrat Senate leadership took to the Senate floor to negotiate their positions on border wall funding to end the partial government shutdown that began early Saturday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) each made speeches on the Senate floor to make their party’s case on border security and the government shutdown.

McConnell speech:

“We’ve pushed the pause button until the president and Senate Democrats reach an agreement,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “No procedural votes. No test votes. Just a meaningful vote on a bipartisan agreement whenever that is reached.”

“It’s my hope that is reached sooner rather than later,” he added.

Schumer speech:

“President Trump, if you want to open the government you must abandon the wall, plain and simple,” Schumer said. “It will never pass the Senate. Not today, not next week, not next year.”


Supreme Court Rejects Request to Hear Environmental Challenge to Trump’s Border Wall Construction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from a trio of conservation and environmental groups seeking to block construction of President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The justices declined to consider the groups’ appeal of a lower court ruling that paved the way for the federal government to begin replacing border fencing in two locations and building wall prototypes.

The judge, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, rejected the groups’ challenge to a 1996 federal law that gives the government the power to waive environmental laws to more quickly begin work on a wall. The Department of Homeland Security sought to sidestep the laws as it pursued the projects related to construction of the border wall.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Introducing Bill to Fully Fund Border Wall

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will introduce a bill this week that will fully fund President Donald Trump’s planned wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, thereby setting the midterm elections up as a referendum on immigration policy, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.

Outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan hinted at a post-election border wall funding fight on Monday.

“We intend on having a full-fledged discussion on how to complete our mission to secure the border, and yes, we will have a fight about this,” Ryan said of the wall fight that looms at a news conference on Monday.

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Trump threatens to veto omnibus spending bill over DACA and the border wall

President Donald Trump threatened to veto the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill already passed by Congress on Friday.

The about-face comes a day after White House officials issued public assurances the president would sign the legislation despite his misgivings about it. The government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday if Trump does not sign a funding bill into law.

In a tweet, Trump said he is “considering a VETO” because the proposal does not extend protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants or fully fund his proposed border wall.


Trump visits wall prototypes

Trump left the border wall prototype site and was en route back to Miramar Air Station where he is expected to address 10,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

From there he is expected to depart to Los Angeles where he will be attending a fundraising event.