Lawmakers warn Trump against declaring emergency over border wall funding

by Kim Boateng Posted on February 15th, 2019

Washington: The announcement that President Donald Trump planned to declare a national emergency on Thursday was met almost instantly with fierce criticism from top Democrats and some Republicans denouncing the idea and warning of what is to come.

The president is expected to sign a funding bill, which just passed in the Senate, that will provide $1.375 billion for a 55-mile border barrier – much less than the $5.7 billion that Trump has demanded for a wall along the southern border. After signing the measure he will declare a national emergency to get more funding for a wall, the White House said.

“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 Sanders said in a statement.

The possibility of Trump declaring an emergency, something he’s hinted at for more than a month, will certainly spur immediate legal challenges.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi railed against the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency, saying that Republicans “should have some dismay to the door that they are opening, the threshold they are crossing.”

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

She pointed out it opens the door for other presidents to do “an end run around Congress.”

“Just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people,” Pelosi added.

She did not lay out specifics on how Democrats would respond but said that they would “review our options.”

Her counterpart in the Senate, minority leader Chuck Schumer agreed and denounced the idea to declare a national emergency.

“If President Trump decides to go forward with a disaster declaration, he’ll be making a tremendous mistake,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The New York Democrat continued, explaining that Congress is tasked with the power of the purse and lawmakers have rejected Trump’s demands.

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for the wall,” Schumer said.

Even some Republicans voices concern over the idea of Trump declaring an emergency.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she concerned about use the declaration to repurpose billions of dollars that Congress has already appropriated.

She said it “strikes me as undermining the appropriations process, the will of Congress and of being of dubious constitutionality.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. also said he had concerns that Trump would be violating the Constitution and setting up a bad precedent.

“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” he said in a statement. “Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal. I will wait to see what statutory or constitutional power the President relies on to justify such a declaration before making any definitive statement. But I am skeptical it will be something I can support.”

Other Republicans, however, seemed to be sticking by the president and advocating for the action.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said other presidents have used the power and he thinks Trump is “probably on pretty solid ground.”

“If I were the president, I’m not, I would do what I thought was best regardless of what – as long as I had the legal authority,” he said.

Shelby said he doesn’t think it goes around the appropriations process.

“I’m not concerned because I think the president is on the right track to secure the border, which I share,’’ he said. “I like what he’s doing. I would have gotten the $5.7 billion if I could”

 

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