President Donald Trump has said that he will “almost definitely” declare a national emergency should congress not approve spending plans to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border.
Speaking as he left the White House for a trip to McAllen, Texas on the Southern border, Trump said that he would prefer to work with congress on a deal to end the government shutdown, but threatened to use his emergency powers if needed.
“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven’t done it yet, I may do it. If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”
Legal scholars have questioned the president’s right to take such action in this case, as he would be using funds meant for national disasters.
The current government shutdown has seen over 800,000 people lose paychecks over the Christmas period, and should it extend into the weekend, will become the longest in US history.
On Thursday, the association that represents thousands of FBI agents warned that the shutdown could cause laboratory delays, reduce money for investigations and make it harder to recruit and retain agents.
The FBI Agents Association sent a petition to the White House and congressional leaders encouraging them to fund the FBI immediately. Friday will be the first day that the nearly 13,000 special agents will miss their paychecks.
“This is not about politics for special agents. For special agents, financial security is national security,” Tom O’Connor, the association’s president, told reporters in a conference call. Nearly 5,000 special agents, intelligence analysts and other staff are currently furloughed.
An opinion poll has said that 51% of the US population blame President Trump for the shutdown, with the others blaming the democrats or are unsure. It came after Nancy Pelosi said that a majority blamed the President.