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HC Wake-Up Call: Trump to Declare National Emergency to Secure Border Wall Funding, Barr Sworn in as AG & Trump’s Physical Shows He’s ‘In Good Health Overall’

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Trump to Declare National Emergency to Secure Funding for Border Wall

The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump will sign a spending bill and declare a national emergency to secure funding to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, a promise that he had made on the campaign trail in the 2016 presidential election.

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action ― including a national emergency ― to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The move would work to bypass congressional approval to secure funding for the border wall.

According to ABC News, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle reached an agreement Monday to avoid another government shutdown and allocate $1.375 billion for 55 miles of “pedestrian fencing” along the U.S.-Mexico border, an amount far from the president’s demand of $5.7 billion to build more than 200 miles of concrete barriers.

A White House official familiar with the president’s plan told ABC News that funds for the border wall would come from the $1.375 billion allocated in the spending bill Congress passed Thursday, along with $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program. With the national emergency declaration, an additional $3.5 billion would come from the Pentagon’s military construction budget.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had previously cautioned the president earlier this month on declaring a national emergency to secure border wall funding, warning that the move could cause backlash, even from his own party, The Washington Post reported.

Several Republicans have spoken out in recent weeks about Trump’s possibility of declaring a national emergency, The Huffington Post reports.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said last month that declaring a national emergency would be “a terrible idea” and could set a bad precedent.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the declaration would be a “lawless act” and a “gross abuse of the power of the presidency.”

“It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law,” their statement said, calling the president’s actional “a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook” for the border wall. The Democratic leaders added that Congress “will defend our constitutional authorities.”

At a press conference Thursday, Pelosi suggested that Republicans would come to regret the precedent set by the president’s actions, suggesting that a future Democratic president could declare a national emergency on gun violence. The House Speaker added that Democrats may file a legal challenge against the president’s declaration.

“First of all, it’s not an emergency what’s happening at the border. It’s a humanitarian challenge to us,” Pelosi told reporters.

“The precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans,” she said. “And of course we will respond accordingly when we review our options.”

William Barr, Trump’s Nominee for Attorney General, Was Sworn In

William Barr, President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, was sworn in Thursday in the Oval Office, hours after the Senate confirmed Barr by a 54-45 vote.

The vote fell largely along party lines, with three Democrats joining nearly every Republican in support, according to ABC News. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) split with their Democratic colleagues to support Barr. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only Republican to oppose Barr’s nomination, citing his record on privacy issues.

Barr, who will be taking over the role from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will now head the Justice Department and oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election.

But Senate Democrats had continued to express concern this week over how Barr would oversee the Russia investigation, blasting Barr for a memo he wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year in which he described Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction as “fatally misconceived,” Politico reports.

“I wrote the memo as a former attorney general who has often weighed in on legal issues of public importance, and I distributed it broadly so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my views,” Barr said in his opening statement during his confirmation hearing last month.

Democrats also raised concern over how Barr wouldn’t commit to making Mueller’s final report public.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized Barr’s confirmation in a statement Thursday.

“The Justice Department needs a leader who will be independent of the White House and who is able to stand up to President Trump. Bill Barr hasn’t demonstrated that he would be that independent leader,” Feinstein said in her statement. “His view on executive power–essentially saying the president is above the law–and his refusal to commit to releasing the Mueller report, or protecting other investigations that implicate the president’s interests are especially troubling.”

“While I opposed Bill Barr’s nomination, it’s my hope that he’ll remember he is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer,” Feinstein concluded.

But Judiciary Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Barr an “outstanding” pick to head the agency.

“He is a steady hand at a time of turmoil and he will bring much-needed reform to the Department of Justice,” Graham said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Mr. Barr on the many issues facing the men and women of the Department of Justice and our nation as a whole.”

During his confirmation hearing last month, Barr pledged his independence from Trump and vowed that he wouldn’t fire Mueller without good cause.

“I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president,” Barr said. “I am going to do what I think is right.”

Trump’s Physical Shows He’s “In Good Health Overall”

The White House released results of President Donald Trump’s physical on Thursday, with White House physician Sean Conley concluding that the president is “in very good health overall.”

Conley, who conducted the physical along with 11 different board-certified specialists, said “it is my determination that the President remains in very good health overall.”

According to Politico, however, one notable measure in the results showed Trump has gained weight since his last physical, weighing in at 243 pounds versus 239 pounds previously, an assessment made by his former doctor, Ronny Jackson.

Conley recorded Trump’s height as 6’3”, and with a weight of 243 pounds, his BMI, or Body Mass Index, would be 30.4, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considered obese.

Jackson recommended last year that the president lose 10-15 pounds, and put him on a diet and exercise plan, but the White House said that the president has not followed the plan closely.

The four-hour physical exam, which Trump underwent last week at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, revealed that his blood pressure is 118/80 with a heart rate of 70 beats per minute, and his total cholesterol was measured at 196, with “an HDL of 58 and an LDL of 122” — all lower than last year.

The only change in his medication, according to ABC News, is “an increased dose of rosuvastatin to 40 milligrams daily,” up from his previous 10mg dose.

Conley said Trump also received pneumonia and shingles immunizations and that his liver, kidney and thyroid function were all normal.

“There were no findings of significance or changes to report on his physical exam, including the eyes, ears, nose, mouth teeth/gums, heart, lungs, skin, gastrointestinal and neurologic systems,” the report said.

What to look out for…

Starbucks created a drink order for every zodiac sign, and “The Starbucks Zodiac” is pretty spot-on. 

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.