President Joe Biden has officially cancelled a national emergency declaration that then-President Donald Trump signed over the situation at the southern border in early 2019 and used as an excuse to divert huge amounts of federal cash to the construction of border barriers. Building a wall was, of course, one of Trump’s key campaign promises, although the “wall” turned out to be steel fencing, as BBC News summarized based on a report from the Congressional Research Service. In the past, Trump promised to construct a concrete wall along the border, but that never materialized — and the funding from Mexico for the wall that Trump promised he would obtain never materialized, either.
In a notice to Congressional leaders, Biden said as follows:
‘I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted. I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.’
New: President Biden has terminated Trump’s national emergency declaration at the US-Mexico border, calling it “unwarranted” – adding “no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.”
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 11, 2021
Congress actually launched bipartisan opposition to Trump’s national emergency declaration over the southern border on a couple of occasions, but resolutions that both chambers of Congress passed to do away with the declaration did not have enough support to override presidential vetoes, and Trump vetoed both of the measures. Trump’s original national emergency declaration ignored the Constitutionally mandated role for Congress in the distribution of government funds. The Trump administration forged ahead with their political agenda no matter plans from Congress. Ultimately, the Trump administration diverted billions of dollars in government funding towards border barrier construction.
NEW: President Biden terminates Trump’s national emergency declaration at the southern border and seeks to defund Trump’s border wall pic.twitter.com/j62NrSmKKf
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) February 11, 2021
The Biden administration has already taken on other Trump administration priorities as well. For instance, in a case in which the Trump administration argued for the judicial nullification of the entire Affordable Care Act, the Biden team formally changed the federal government’s stance in recent days. The Department of Justice said “that the Biden admin’s position is the law is constitutional, and if the court disagrees, the section at issue can be severed,” reporter Zoe Tillman explains. The section at issue is the tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance coverage, which Trump (with Congressional backing) set to zero dollars in 2017. Certain Republicans have claimed that the lack of a financial penalty does away with the tax-based authority for the so-called “individual mandate” for Americans to obtain health insurance.
The great legal untangling continues: DOJ officially changes positions in the SCOTUS Obamacare fight, saying (unsurprisingly) that the Biden admin's position is the law is constitutional, and if the court disagrees, the section at issue can be severed https://t.co/ZrWqozupm2 pic.twitter.com/CHv6Binpxk
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) February 10, 2021