Stephen Miller: If Trump Invoked 'Emergency' to Build a Wall Overseas, Congress Would Not Object

By Susan Jones | February 18, 2019 | 7:46am EST
A migrant caravan treks into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on October 21, 2018 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

( - "It is fundamental and essential to the idea of sovereignty and national survival to have control over who enters and doesn't enter the country," Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser in the Trump White House, told "Fox News Sunday."

In an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Miller defended President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency, which would allow him to tap military construction funds for his long-promised border wall.

"I guarantee you this, if Donald Trump had said he's invoking the National Emergency Military Construction Authority to build a security perimeter in Iraq or Afghanistan or around a military installation in Syria, there would not have been one word of objection from Congress," Miller said. "This is defending our own country."


Miller noted that Congress in 1976 passed the National Emergency Act "and gave the president authority, as a result of that, to invoke a national emergency in many different circumstances, but among them, the use of military construction funds.

"And that was the point I was making earlier. If the president were to say we're going to use military construction funds to, say, increase a perimeter around a base in Bagram, around a base in Syria, nobody would even say anything about it, and we have 4,000 troops on the border right now and as a result of that mission, they need to secure those areas where they're patrolling."

Miller said if Congress now objects to the authority it gave the president in the 1976 law, it's up to them to address that.

If Congress passes a resolution of disapproval in response to Trump's emergency declaration, Trump could then veto it. Would he do that? Wallace asked Miller:

"He's going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed," Miller responded. "But the fact that they're even talking about a resolution of disapproval show you this is a statutory issue and a statutory delegation that Congress made.

"But again, I want to make this point. This is a deep intellectual problem that is plaguing this city which is that we've had thousands of Americans die year after year after year because of threats crossing our southern border. We have families and communities that are left unprotected and undefended. We have international narco-terrorist organizations.

"This is a threat in our country, not overseas. Not in Belarus. Not in Zimbabwe. Not in Afghanistan or Syria or Iraq but right here. And if the president can't defend this country, then he cannot fulfill this constitutional oath of office."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) told ABC's "This Week" that she expects Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval.

"Now, whether we have enough for an override and veto, that's a different story. But frankly, I think there's enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he's doing is robbing from the military and the DOD to go build this wall that, you know, is really not even the best way to fight the crisis."

Duckworth said she would back a lawsuit against Trump on the grounds that only Congress can appropriate funds.

Congress, in the recently struck bipartisan border security agreement, expressly forbade Trump from building a new, improved wall. The text of the bill stipulates current types of "pedestrian fencing."

"Frankly, the president is trying to take the power of the purse away from the legislative branch," Duckworth said. "We are co-equal branches of government and he is trying to do a type of executive overreach and it's just really uncalled for.

“And you know, if he wants to appropriate more money to put folks -- more agents at the border to put more people at the ports of entry, to go after counter-drug, we can have those conversations. But to take money away from defense, from DOD in order to build this wall that is essentially a campaign promise, I think is really wrong priorities and I think it's very harmful to the country."

Duckworth said even if everyone agreed that there is a national emergency at the border, "the best way with it is not this wall."

"The best way to deal with this is to put more people at the ports of entry where we know that's where the drugs are coming into the country. Let's talk about the family separations, the children who've been ripped away from their families at the border. Let's deal with that. It's not about building this wall."

"Again, this goes back to the president abusing his power, declaring a national emergency to fulfill a campaign promise and really not addressing the issues that we are facing," Duckworth said.

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