President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to divert billions of dollars from the Pentagon for a border wall faces its first courtroom test Friday in Oakland, California.
The Sierra Club and a group of southern U.S. communities are asking a federal judge to immediately block the plan. It was announced in February after Congress declined to approve the billions requested by the president. Federal District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam holds a hearing Friday morning on their request for an nationwide order to stop the construction.
Operating under its emergency declaration, the administration put together a plan for spending about $6 billion dollars, mostly from the Pentagon budget. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has told Congress the money would build 256 miles of border wall, with 63 of them completed by the end of the year.
The opponents, represented by the ACLU, say the president’s plan exceeds his powers, because he cannot spend more than Congress has authorized or use the money in a way that’s inconsistent with the purposes of appropriations already made. Their suit also says the emergency declaration law invoked by the president allows use of Pentagon construction funds only to support the military.
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