Republicans warn Trump against decision to declare emergency to build border wall


Mr McConnell said the Senate will soon vote on the bill that's needed to avoid a partial federal shutdown.

Republicans touted that the bill provides 55 miles of barrier in the Border Patrol's highest priority areas, a $US942 million increase to Customs and Border Protection for 800 new officers, and $US615 million for new equipment at ports of entry.

Mr Trump triggered a 35-day-long shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government with his December demand for $US5.7bn.

With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Mr Trump folded on Jan 25 without getting any of the wall funds. Asked by reporters if she would file a legal challenge to an emergency declaration, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "I may, that's an option".

In a 83-16 vote, the Senate on Thursday passed the border security bill. It emerges that presidents declare national emergencies with fair regularity.

But the top Democrat in Congress immediately denounced the president's move.

"The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall", the statement continued, "protect the border, and secure our great country". Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said that while he believes there is a crisis at the US' southern border, the declaration may pave the way for a future president to "use the exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal".

With numerous Democrats' liberal base voters adamantly against Trump's aggressive attempts to curb immigration, four declared presidential hopefuls opposed the bill in the Senate: Cory Booker of New Jersey, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of MA and Kamala Harris of California. A 1982 law empowers the secretary of defense to redirect military construction funds during a presidentially declared national emergency.

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Earlier the president tweeted: "Reviewing the funding bill with my team at the (at) WhiteHouse!" Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that he was "prepared to introduce a resolution to terminate the President's emergency declaration under 50 U.S.C. 1622".

Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer also said "Congress will defend our constitutional authorities".

"Whether the president has the authority or not, it sets a unsafe precedent and places America on a path that we will regret", he said.

Legal experts have also questioned whether Trump could use the military to build the wall and whether there will be problems with the military, without congressional authorization, seizing private land along the border to build the wall.

About $10 billion would be available to the president from this year's budget, along with another $11 billion in funding from previous budgets that has not been obligated, the aides said. The legislation would reportedly provide more than $300 billion to fund the Department of Homeland Security and some other USA agencies through 30 September, the end of the current fiscal year.

Other Republicans said they were hoping for assurances Mr Trump will sign the bill if it gets to his desk, possibly later on on Thursday.

If the president does declare an emergency, Democrats and others are sure to challenge him in court, which could delay construction for years.