If the president calls an end-run around Congress and funds a border wall through executive powers, he’d do so with the blessing of both of West Virginia’s U.S. Senators.
Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., both said Friday, with different rationales, that they’re OK with President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency in order to secure funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Capito said the border security issue in the U.S. is at both an “emergency” and “crisis” level. Democrats, she said, are not budging from their position of refusing to put money forward for a wall and leaving Trump no other option.
“If he does go that direction, he’ll have to flesh out his legal justifications, but I support the president’s commitment to border security,” she said. “I think in the end, I would probably support it.”
The federal government partially shut down Dec. 22, 2018 as the result of a fight for up to more than $5 billion in funding for the border wall.
While Manchin didn’t necessarily support the concept of Trump declaring the emergency, he punted the issue to the judicial branch in hopes that it stops the declaration, if one were to occur. He said the country is facing a “political meltdown” and he’s only being a “realist” in understanding Trump needs an escape hatch from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“I truly believe that the president will lose in court, but I think that he has to save political face,” Manchin said. “I’m just being realistic enough to understand he needs a way out of this. I think he’ll lose in court, I’d hope he would lose in court. Because it should be debated, as far as policy, by the legislative branch.”
He acknowledged that Congress controls the purse strings, but said whether it’s Fox News personality Sean Hannity or some of the more conservative lawmakers on immigration issues, someone has Trump’s ear and is egging the shutdown on.
While leaving the matter to the courts is a roll of the dice, Manchin said there’s no other play.
“You can’t bank on it,” he said of a favorable court decision. “I’m hoping, but tell me another way. We don’t have other options, we’ve tried them all.”
If Trump declares a national emergency, it would grant him powers to access funds to respond to the declared emergency without congressional approval, according to a Washington Post report. While Trump has been flirting with the idea recently, on Friday, he tapped the brakes on it.
In Washington, D.C., about a quarter of the federal government remains shut down, which includes some 18,000 federal employees in West Virginia.
Friday marked the first payday in which employees did not receive a paycheck as part of the shutdown. When asked how they should cope, Capito didn’t offer a solution.
“It’s really tough, and that’s the big question,” she said. “We’re hearing from our constituents, because we have quite a few, who are in this boat. I would say that that pressure we hear from our constituents will be brought to the president’s desk and brought to the Democratic leaders’ desks, I think that’s going to be hopefully a big enough push to push the Democrats, mostly, to making some kind of a concession on border security.”
Manchin issued a news release last week announcing plans to donate his salary he receives during the shutdown to food banks in West Virginia. On Friday, he stopped by several around the state and invited media to attend.