President Trump praised the Supreme Court for allowing his administration to use Pentagon funds to build sections of a border wall with Mexico, calling it a "big VICTORY" in tweets.
"Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!" Mr. Trump wrote.
The Supreme Court said Friday that itput in place by a lower court. The court's action means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work on four contracts it has awarded. The four liberal justices wouldn't have allowed construction to start.
A trial court initially froze the funds in May and an appeals court kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.
Congressional Democrats condemned the decision for allowing Mr. Trump to "steal" funds to build the border wall.
"It's a sad day when the president is cheering a decision that may allow him to steal funds from our military to pay or an ineffective and expensive wall for which he promised Mexico would foot the bill," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. "This is a deeply regrettable and nonsensical decision and flies in the face of the will of Congress and the Congress's exclusive power over the purse, which our founders established in the Constitution."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also condemned the decision, saying congressional Democrats "will continue to fight to uphold our Constitution and protect our democracy as the case continues on appeal."
"For months, the President has sought to undermine our military readiness and steal from our men and women in uniform to waste billions on a wasteful, ineffective wall that Congress on a bipartisan basis has repeatedly refused to fund," Pelosi said in a statement. "The Supreme Court's decision tonight to allow President Trump to defy the bipartisan will of the Congress and proceed with contracts to spend billions of dollars on his wall undermines the Constitution and the law."
Supreme Court Justice Breyer, who dissented in part, wrote that the court had to assess the competing claims in considering whether it would grant a stay of the lower court's freeze. Granting the stay might "cause irreparable harm to the environment," while denying it could irreparably harm the government. He would have allowed the construction contracts to be finalized but not the construction. The administration had claimed that if failed to finalize its contracts for construction before Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year, the funds would be returned to the Treasury.
Mr. Trump declared a national emergency to obtain funds to build the wall in February, after Congress refused to provide funding in a standoff which culminated in a 35-day government shutdown.