Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL, appears to have found a loophole that would allow President Donald Trump to bypass Congress on securing funding for the border wall.
During a hearing on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood indicated that the loophole would allow Trump to build the wall without Congress or having to declare a national emergency.
Rood and Brooks went on to discuss 10 U.S. Code § 284, which appears to indicate that the president of the United States can direct America’s military to build a wall.
BROOKS: I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code § 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the United States military to the southern border to build fences and to do a lot of other things. And for clarity, if you look it up in the dictionary the word fence includes the word barrier and the word barrier includes walls made of a wide variety of different materials.
So that having been said, it seems to me that 10 U.S. Code § 284 can be used by the President of the United States to direct the United States military to build a wall. Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
ROOD: Congressman, I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284. You are correct, however, that that use of authority would authorize the secretary of defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those types of materials to disrupt drug smuggling.
BROOKS: Does 10 U.S.C. § 284 as you understand it, require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?
BROOKS: It does not?
BROOKS: Has President Trump, to your knowledge, ever used 10 U.S.C § 284 to direct the military to build the wall that is necessary for border security?
ROOD: No, not to my knowledge, Congressman.
BROOKS: If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon and the United States military pursuant to 10 U.S.C § 284 to build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels would the United States military obey that order?
ROOD: If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir. And I assume it would be.
Trump signed a measure on Friday to keep the government open until Feb. 15 so that Republicans and Democrats can negotiate a deal on funding for the wall.
The short-term deal does not include any upfront money for the border wall, but the president said he will declare a national emergency if Democrats do not agree to a deal in three weeks.
That gives Trump and Democrats three weeks to reach a compromise on allocating at least $5 billion in wall funding — or Trump, as he said, will declare a national emergency.