WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump intends to sign a bipartisan funding package aimed at averting a government shutdown, but will also declare a national emergency in an effort to build a wall along the southern border, the White House said Thursday.
"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 at the border," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border and secure our great country."
The Senate had been waiting for word from the White House before scheduling a vote on a spending agreement put together by a bipartisan group of negotiators over the past two weeks. The measure would fund the government through September, averting a second government shutdown that was slated to begin at the end of the week.
The Senate passed the spending package 83-16 on Thursday afternoon, and the House approved the measure 300-128 around 9 p.m.
The measure includes $1.375 billion for barriers along the border, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded for a border wall during the month-long shutdown that began in December. Senators said well into Thursday afternoon that they were not sure whether Trump would sign the bill.
In addition to the border barrier funding, the package includes $22.54 billion for more general border security measures, including the hiring of more law enforcement personnel and new technology and equipment at points of entry.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced around 3 pm that he had spoken to Trump and that the president would be declaring a national emergency in addition to signing the bill.
Trump had long threatened to declare an emergency if Congress did not meet his wall funding request. The move would give him greater authority to shift money from other areas of government into the building of a wall along the southern border.
Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can terminate an emergency through a joint resolution that passes both the House and Senate. Because the president would very likely veto any such resolution, the resolution would effectively need to pass each chamber with the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
Presidents must renew a national emergency every year for them to remain in effect and it is relatively common for emergencies to continue for years on end. There were 31 national emergencies in effect as of Jan. 10, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
Lawmakers scrambled in the wake of the news to determine what exactly Trump's announcement would mean.
While Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared skeptical of the move, he said it is unclear what authority Trump plans to cite in declaring the national emergency.
"In general I'm not for using emergency powers because I think the Constitution is very clear trying to separate the powers and when you start naming things as emergencies, I think very quickly we lose the checks and balances of government," Paul told reporters Thursday.
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, was similarly unclear on what authority Trump would cite. He said there are also some processes short of an emergency that would allow Trump to shift money from other priorities in order to fund the wall.
While he noted he had previously suggested the move would be unproductive, Cornyn stopped short of saying he would support congressional action against the declaration.
"That's a few moves down the chessboard," Cornyn told reporters. "I'm not prepared because I don't know exactly what the president's going to do."