- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The White House said Wednesday night it will appeal a district judge’s ruling that blocks President Trump from using billions of dollars that Congress earmarked for the Pentagon to instead build his border wall.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the decision Tuesday by Judge David Briones of Texas, a Clinton appointee, “another improper nationwide injunction.” She said the administration “plans to immediately appeal this incorrect decision.”

The judge halted $3.6 billion that Mr. Trump sought to move from the Defense Department for wall construction, based on his declaration of a border national emergency.

On Wednesday, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., an Obama appointee to the federal court in Northern California, issued another decision blocking the same money. He ruled Congress specifically rejected Mr. Trump’s larger request for money, and the president’s efforts to spend more than he was allocated on the border wall is illegal.

“The court appreciates the complexity of the policy judgments at hand, and further understands that defendants may strongly disagree with Congress‘ determination. But the court has found that defendants do not have the statutory authority under Section 2808 to redirect military construction funds for the planned border barrier construction,” the judge wrote.

The White House said it sees the issue differently.

Ms. Grisham said federal law “authorizes the use of the funds by empowering the Secretary of Defense to ‘undertake military construction projects’ to support the Armed Forces during a national emergency.”

Judge Briones‘ ruling imposed a nationwide halt.

Judge Gilliam’s ruling, though, only applied to a specific set of projects — though all of those were also covered by Judge Briones’s ruling.

Unlike Judge Briones, Judge Gilliam issued a stay of his own decision, saying he anticipates a speedy appeal in the case.

Ms. Grisham, in her statement, criticized Judge Briones‘ wide-ranging blockade.

“The district court issued a nationwide injunction on the theory that building the wall is causing ‘reputational’ harm and economic disruption to a Texas county and an advocacy group in that county,” she said. “But the court’s injunction sweeps far broader than that and blocks multiple projects that are hundreds of miles away and have nothing to do with these plaintiffs.”

She said the Supreme Court “has already stayed one erroneous injunction blocking the use of a different statutory authority to build the border wall,” and that the administration plans to appeal this ruling as well.

Congress approved $1.375 billion for border wall construction in fiscal 2019. Mr. Trump signed that bill, but then declared the emergency and shifted more than $6 billion from Pentagon construction and drug interdiction programs for wall construction.

Democrats argue that the president is violating the Constitution because Congress never authorized him to spend the extra money.

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