(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "So I'm going to be signing a national emergency." President Donald Trump on Friday made good on a threat to declare a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, circumventing Congress in a bid to tap billions of dollars in federal funds for a wall along the nation's southern border.
The contentious move - opposed by many of his own Republicans - came as Trump prepared to grudgingly sign a bipartisan government spending bill that would avert another federal shutdown.
But it does not include the $5.7 billion in wall funding he had demanded.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Well I got $1.4 billion, but I'm not happy with it." White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the administration had identified roughly $8 billion dollars already in government coffers that could be used for the wall.
That money includes $600 million from a Treasury Department fund, $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund, and $3.6 billion from a military construction budget.
A senior official said the goal was to build at least 234 miles of border wall this year.
The emergency order drew fierce criticism from a host of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, citing Congress's power over the nation's purse.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said "No crisis justifies violating the Constitution" while Republican Senator John Cornyn said the emergency declaration "would not be a practical solution." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) - KENTUCKY, SAYING: "I'm going to support the national emergency declaration." But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is supporting the move, after repeatedly Trump advising against it, saying Democrats had left him no choice.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) - NEW YORK, SAYING: "Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency." 15 Senate Democrats, meanwhile, introduced legislation to stop the transfer of funds Trump would likely use, unless Congress authorizes it.
Trump acknowledged the move faces a tough battle ahead in the courts, but predicted the Supreme Court would ultimately side with him.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "It's a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, an invasion of gangs and an invasion of people, and it's unacceptable." Trump is making the emergency declaration in the face of statistics showing illegal immigration on the southern border is at a 20-YEAR LOW, AND that most drug shipments are smuggled through legal ports of entry.