In the aftermath of what has widely been deemed a political defeat for President Donald Trump in his effort to build a wall on the southern border, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an ultimatum to Democrats.
After Congress passed a bill to open the government for the next three weeks while border security is negotiated, Trump tweeted that "in 21 days, if no deal is done, it's off to the races." Sanders took things even a step further.
"In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats," Sanders wrote. "The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing."
In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only o… https://t.co/Bie3ZKrOlU— Sarah Sanders (@Sarah Sanders)1548466083.0
Can they really do it without Democrats?
Their comments raise an obvious question, however: If they can build the wall without Democrats, and without conceding anything to Democrats, why was part of the government just shut down for more than a month?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has not wavered in her assertion that Democrats will not agree to fund the border wall in whole or in part, has not changed tune even with the government temporarily funded.
"Have I not been clear on the wall," Pelosi said at a press conference Friday.
So, it's unclear whether this three-week period will get the two sides any closer to a long-term solution.
Back to the national emergency solution
If no deal is reached, Trump said he will declare a national emergency to have the wall built, an idea he has flirted with in past weeks before deciding against it. The legality of such a move is unclear, and would surely be challenged in court.
"We'll work with the Democrats and negotiate and if we can't do that, then we'll do a—obviously we'll do the national emergency because that's what it is. It's a national emergency."
PolitiFact summarized the potential legal hurdles a national emergency declaration would face, in terms of actually using it to get the wall funded and built:
Trump would likely face a legal challenge if he invoked either of those two provisions, experts said. Potential arguments that would rise are whether the border wall is necessary to support the armed forces already deployed at the border, whether the construction has the appropriate approval, and whether the reallocation of funds is justified. Also a matter of debate is who would have legal standing to challenge the president's declaration.