WASHINGTON — As the budget standoff between President Trump and congressional Democrats grinds into the third week of a partial government shutdown, the White House has floated the idea that Mr. Trump might invoke emergency powers to build his proposed wall on the Mexican border without lawmakers’ approval.
That route could resolve the immediate crisis by giving Mr. Trump a face-saving way to sign spending bills that do not include funding for his wall. But it would be an extraordinarily aggressive move — at a minimum, a violation of constitutional norms — that would most likely thrust the wall’s fate into the courts. Here is a primer on whether Mr. Trump can use emergency powers to proceed with the project without explicit congressional permission.
What are emergency powers?
The president has the authority to declare a national emergency, which activates enhancements to his executive powers by essentially creating exceptions to rules that normally constrain him. The idea is to enable the government to respond quickly to a crisis.