Rick Scott says Trump should use emergency powers to pay for a border wall

Gov. Rick Scott speaks to supporters at an election watch party in Naples, Fla., Nov. 7, 2018.
Gov. Rick Scott speaks to supporters at an election watch party in Naples, Fla., Nov. 7, 2018. AP

Florida Sen. Rick Scott is urging President Donald Trump to declare an emergency to pay for a border wall if Democrats won’t agree to it.

Less than one week after the longest shutdown in federal government history was temporarily halted, Scott said the president should bypass Congress and use Department of Defense dollars to pay for a border wall, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Thursday that there will be “no wall money” in a bill to fund the government beyond February 15.

“If the Democrats refuse to work with him, then the president needs to use his emergency powers to fund border security and include a permanent solution for DACA and TPS,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott’s position is new. He did not explicitly endorse a move that could divert Department of Defense funds from ongoing disaster relief projects to build a wall during the previous shutdown. An emergency declaration by Trump would almost certainly be challenged in the courts, though it would allow the president to sign spending bills to keep the government open without reneging on a campaign promise to build the wall.

“I know there will be critics that say the President shouldn’t do things like this by executive order. And they aren’t necessarily wrong,” Scott said. “I was critical of Obama when he tried to solve the DACA issue by EO. President Trump proposed logical solutions, and if the Democrats won’t negotiate with him because their judgment is clouded by their pure hatred of him, then the President needs to move forward. These are common sense issues, and it’s time to provide a real solution for the American people.”

It’s unclear where the president would get the $5 billion he’s seeking to partially build a wall. Three weeks ago it was reported that disaster relief projects in Puerto Rico and California run by the Army Corps of Engineers could be on the chopping block, a pot of money that also includes over $500 million to rebuild the Herbert Hoover dike around Lake Okeechobee.

On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio said declaring a national emergency is “not a good precedent to set.” Rubio is a supporter of additional border security funding, like Scott, but the Democrat-controlled House isn’t budging on Trump’s demand for wall money.

Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment when asked if his position has changed in recent days.

Trump’s decision to reopen the government for three weeks without wall money was seen as reneging on a campaign promise by some of his supporters, as he frequently said Mexico would pay for the wall during the 2016 campaign.