US Supreme Court says Trump can spend Pentagon funds on border wall
The US Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of President Donald Trump, allowing him to proceed with plans to divert billions of dollars in Pentagon funds towards construction of his border wall with Mexico.
"Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall," Trump tweeted in reaction to the ruling, which boosts his ability to fulfill a major campaign promise to construct the massive barrier. "Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!"
Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year in a bid to bypass Congress and obtain funding for his signature project, after the standoff led to the longest government shutdown in US history.
But about 20 US states along with rights and environmental groups and border communities are backing lawsuits that claim the emergency declaration violates the constitution.
A federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a temporary injunction against using Defense Department funds for wall construction.
On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision with a 5-4 ruling, writing that the government had "made a sufficient showing at this stage" that the groups did not have the standing to challenge the allocation of funds, freeing up the money for the president's use while litigation proceeds.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top congressional Democrats, denounced the ruling.
Pelosi insinuated that the president had exercised executive overreach in bypassing Congress to get the funding, writing on Twitter that "our Founders designed a democracy governed by the people - not a monarchy."
Schumer, meanwhile, called the matter "deeply regrettable" and "nonsensical," adding that it "flies in the face of the will of Congress and the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse."
Trump had originally requested $5.7 billion for his border wall, but after a tug-of-war that included a record 35-day federal government shutdown, he reluctantly signed a spending bill that included appropriations of just $1.4 billion for border barriers, and not specifically a wall.
Then, citing an "invasion" of drugs and criminals, he declared a national emergency at the border, allowing him to repurpose billions of dollars in other government funding.
The $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds at play in the Supreme Court ruling were part of that repurposed money.