Idaho’s congressional delegation, made of up four Republicans, expressed support for President Trump in the wake of his emergency declaration over the southern border.

“Yes, there is a need for significant additional funding for border security,” Sen. Mike Crapo told the Idaho Press Wednesday. “I also agree with the president that the situation at the border is an emergency situation, the situation at the border is a crisis.”

Trump declared a national emergency Feb. 15, a day after he signed a compromise bill putting $1.4 billion toward a border wall — much less than the $5.7 billion he’d requested.

Crapo said Trump is now seeking an additional $6.7 billion in border wall funding under the emergency declaration, largely from the Department of Defense.

Freshman Rep. Russ Fulcher said the border situation does qualify for the declaration.

“In this particular instance it is a two-stage decision,” Fulcher told the Idaho Press. “The first for me is I support the law, and the law does indeed give the president the ability to declare emergency and use funds accordingly. The second part and to me the real question is the circumstance by which he’s calling the emergency, is it really an emergency? After being briefed on it, I believe the answer is yes.”

Neither Risch nor Simpson was available for a phone interview and each sent a statement to the Idaho Press.

“Protecting our country is the most important job we have as elected officials, and President Trump has made clear it’s a responsibility he takes serious,” Risch said in his Feb. 15 statement. “The president has said he will do what is necessary to protect the American people, and that’s what he did today.”

Simpson’s statement on Tuesday said, “I agree with the President that border security is a national emergency, and it is disappointing that Congress’ inaction has placed him in a position to declare a national emergency to address the crisis at our southern border.”

It’s time for Congress to act with a “real and comprehensive” immigration reform bill, he said.

“These reforms must address critical issues like the millions of undocumented people living in the shadows and the agriculture labor shortage which has reached a crisis level in the Magic Valley and beyond,” he said.

Risch said that before the president took office, hundreds of miles of walls were approved and constructed under both Democratic and Republican presidents. Risch blamed Democrats for “politicizing the safety of Americans and declare the wall an issue of morality.”

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According to the Associated Press, 654 miles of border wall were constructed under the Secure Fence Act during the Bush administration, with bipartisan support. Congress approved another $292 million in budget year 2017 to improve the border barrier.

The additional funding Trump is seeking, according to Crapo, includes:

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  • $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
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  • $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense funds transferred for support for counter-drug activities.
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  • $3.6 billion in reallocated funds from Department of Defense military construction projects under the national emergency declaration.

The total $8.1 billion, including funding from the bill, would go toward up to 234 miles of barriers around the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Crapo said.

LAWSUIT

Sixteen states are suing the president for his action claim that it is unconstitutional for the president to declare an emergency to redirect funds Congress previously denied.

The lawsuit states that President Trump “used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars” and that “use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a suit Tuesday in the Northern District of California, on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, according to AP.

EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS

National declaration of emergencies isn’t uncommon. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 59 national emergencies have been declared from 1978-2018. President Obama declared 12.

Under the National Emergencies Act, Crapo said, Congress can vote on a resolution to disapprove of an emergency declaration. The president can veto that vote, but Congress has the final power to override the declaration again with a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and the Senate.

“I believe there is a strong emergency there,” Crapo said, “and this is the correct process to follow to address it.”

Riley Bunch is the night reporter for the Idaho Press. Reach her at 208-465-8169 or follow @rbunchIPT on Twitter.

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