A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to divert $3.6 billion in military funds toward construction of barriers along the border with Mexico.
District Court Judge David Briones ruled that the administration’s move to use a national emergency declaration to redirect money appropriated by Congress for military construction was unlawful and issued a permanent nationwide injunction prohibiting use of the funds for border barriers.
The lawsuit was brought by El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights.
The Trump administration is expected to appeal the decision, but the ruling represents a setback for the president, who has vowed to build at least 450 miles of wall by the 2020 election. The administration was reportedly planning to use the $3.6 billion to build 175 miles of barriers.
“Once again, the courts have resoundingly ruled against the President’s attempt to negate our system of separation of powers, which is the genius of our Constitution, by assaulting Congress’s exclusive constitutional power of the purse,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Despite what the President may think, Article II does not mean that he can ‘do whatever he wants.’”
But the court ruling only affects one pool of money Trump had wanted to use for his wall. “The Trump administration has budgeted nearly $10 billion for barrier construction to date, so the ruling affects roughly one-third of the money the president plans to spend on his signature project,” The Washington Post reported. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the administration could use a separate pool of $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counter-narcotics fund to pay for barrier construction.