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AKIPRESS.COM - The White House has begun laying the groundwork for a declaration of national emergency to build President Trump’s border wall, a move certain to set off a firestorm of opposition in Congress and the courts but one that could pave the way for an end to the three-week government shutdown, Washington Post reports.
The administration is eyeing unused money in the Army Corps of Engineers budget, specifically a disaster spending bill passed by Congress last year that includes $13.9 billion allocated but not spent for civil works projects, two people with knowledge of the developments said Thursday.
Trump has urged the Army Corps to determine how fast contracts could be signed and whether construction could begin within 45 days, according to one of the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the preparations.
The list includes dozens of flood control projects in areas affected by recent natural disasters, including the Texas coastline inundated by Hurricane Harvey and parts of Puerto Rico battered by Hurricane Maria. The military construction budget is also being looked at as a potential source for unspent funds, with billions more potentially available there.
The preparations are taking place with talks at an impasse over Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats are staunchly opposed, leading to a partial government shutdown that on Saturday will become the longest in U.S. history.
Some 800,000 federal workers are about to miss their first paychecks since the shutdown began Dec. 22, and problems plaguing shuttered national parks, food inspection processes and other federal services are multiplying.