On Fox News Channel’s “Justice” on Saturday with host Jeanine Pirro, conservative columnist and commenter Ann Coulter presented the argument that President Donald Trump did not need Congress to specifically appropriate money to try to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall was a repeated campaign promise during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Coulter, who was notably irritated by President Donald Trump’s decision to sign last week’s omnibus spending bill, said starting construction of the southern border wall was well within his power as president. Coulter stated that under the U.S. Constitution, he was responsible for the country’s national defense and does not need congressional appropriations or permission to ensure that the defense of the U.S. is carried out.
“On the day after his inauguration, it’s his authority under the Constitution that cannot be taken away from him by any legislature, by any court — I’m quite confident the Supreme Court would uphold this — to defend our borders. I mean, he has — last war that had a declaration of war from Congress in it was World War II. And we engage in a lot of military actions around the world. I think it can be done right on our border for defense. Have the Seabees do it.”
Jeanine Pirro responded by asking where does President Trump get the money to build the wall “that you say he can he can build as national defense?”
“Where does he take the money from?”
“The same place Reagan took the money to invade Grenada,” Coulter replied. “The same place [Trump] took the money bomb Syria. He has money to spend on national defense. This is a much bigger problem of national defense. This our people being attacked with chemical warfare, not allegedly Syrians.”
President Trump early Sunday morning tweeted that the U.S. should “build WALL through M,” perhaps referring to Ann Coulter’s argument to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall using the funds allocated to national defense.
The Congress has already authorized the building of a border wall through the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The act stated quite clearly that the United States federal government should ensure operational control of the borders of the United States:
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States, to include the following–
(1) systematic surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras;
(2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers.
The Congress at the time refused to fully fund the measure, estimated to cost upwards of $50 billion over a 25 year time span. President Donald Trump, under Ann Coulter’s logic, could now fund the construction of a wall with funds pertaining to “national defense.”