UPDATE 15/2/19: On Friday, President Trump confirmed that he's going to declare a national emergency over border wall funding.
Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have released a joint statement in response to the president's announcement, calling it "unlawful."
See original story below.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Donald Trump plans on declaring a national emergency in order to guarantee funding for his border wall. The senator said that prior to circumventing the legislative branch, the president intends on signing a border security funding bill to avoid another government shutdown.
Prior to taking a vote on the bipartisan bill, which falls short of allocating $5 billion towards Trump's border wall, McConnell informed members of both parties where the president stands on the matter. "He is prepared to sign the bill," McConnell said while speaking on the Senate floor Thursday. "He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time."
The president's willingness to sign the bill will clear the way for Senators to vote on the spending bill, effectively avoiding another government shutdown. However, the decision to declare a national emergency will undermine the constitutional role of Congress to govern spending, and likely propel the president's opponents to challenge the action in court.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Many legislators had spent the week speculating as to whether the president would grant his support. On Thursday morning, aides had expressed uncertainty whether the president intended on signing the bill, a sentiment which contradicted earlier statements regarding the president's acceptance. The House is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday evening, and given the president's approval, it will likely pass both chambers.
In response to Trump's secondhand declaration, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the president will be met by “great unease and dismay” for overreaching executive power. When asked whether she intends on legally challenging the declaration, Pelosi indicated that she may.
Declaring a national emergency is most often reserved for immediate threats, whether they be acts of war or health epidemics. Trump's intended maneuver is unprecedented, given Congress' explicit opposition to granting the $5 billion that the president has called for. However, some of the president's high-profile allies, like Fox News host Laura Ingraham have urged him to exercise his executive authority, albeit unconstitutional, to secure funding for the border wall.