House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith told ABC's 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' that President Trump does have the power to declare a national emergency and order the military to build the border wall.
"Unfortunately, the short answer is yes," he said when asked about the idea floated by President Trump on Friday. "In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency?"
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Let's get right to it, does President Trump have the ability, have the authority, to declare a national emergency, have the military build his wall?
REP. ADAM SMITH, (D) WASHINGTON: Well, unfortunately, the short answer is yes. There is a provision in law that says the president can declare an emergency. It's been done a number of times. But primarily it's been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency? You have to establish that in order to do this. But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars. The president spends most of his time talking about how we're not spending enough on national security, now he wants to take $20 billion out of the defense budget to build a wall, which by the way is not going to improve our border security. The president seems unaware of this, but we have actually already built a wall across much of the border, and all border security experts that I talk to say, where a wall makes sense, it's already been built
We should have a conversation about national security -- sorry, about border security, but first we should we open the government and start paying our border patrol agents and the other 800,000 federal employees who are furloughed.