Speed Reads

End Run Amok

Trump apparently plans to raid Army disaster relief and construction funds to build his wall

President Trump is now looking to build up to 315 miles of his border wall by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to dip into a $13.9 billion pot approved last February to fund more than 50 disaster relief and prevention projects in Texas, California, Puerto Rico, and Florida, among other sates, according to multiple reports. That money would be freed up if Trump declares a national emergency to circumvent Congress. The White House is also reportedly eyeing military construction funds.

Democrats and some Republicans oppose dipping into money appropriated, but not yet spent, for flood and hurricane control projects, and call Trump's threatened emergency declaration an abuse of power. Several organizations, including landowners whose property would be seized to build the wall, are preparing possible lawsuits, which congressional Democrats say they will support if they don't have standing to sue themselves. On CNN Thursday night, Chris Cuomo argued that all of this is about Trump looking out for Trump at the expense of American lives, and he predicted it would be ultimately unsuccessful.

The editors of National Review also called raiding military funds to build Trump's wall "a terrible idea" that "would require a strained interpretation that treats the border fence as a military matter, among other legal gymnastics." And "legalities aside, this would be a very bad practice," the editorial continued. "It's an offense against the spirit of our system for a president to fail to get he wants from Congress — in a dispute involving a core congressional power, spending — and then turn around and exploit a tenuous reading of the law to try to get it anyway."