House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, alongside Rep. Joaquin Castro, speaks about a resolution to block Donald Trump’s “national emergency” declaration, Capitol Hill, Washington, February 25, 2019 (Alex Brandon/AP)
The Democrat-led House of Representatives prepares to overturn Donald Trump’s “national emergency” seeking to bypass Congress to fund his Wall with Mexico.
The House will vote on Tuesday. With the measure almost certain to pass, Republicans are trying to limit defections and the margin of defeat.
After failing to get $5.7 billion for the $25 billion Wall during his record-setting 35-day shutdown of the Federal Government, Trump declared the emergency on February 15, lying about an “invasion” of the US by criminals, gangs, and drugs.
The White House is trying to obtain $8 billion for border barriers, including the Wall through the declaration. More than $6 billion would come from the military’s counter-narcotics and construction projects.
Congress has never before sought to cancel a Presidential emergency declaration since the passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976. There have been 58 other declarations, almost all of them connected to national security and natural disasters.
If the House passes the legislation, the Senate — with a 53-47 Republican majority — would have to confirm it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Trump earlier against an emergency declaration, but reluctantly agreed to ensure Trump signed a bill funding the Government through September 30. At the same time, he reportedly warned Trump that he had two weeks — until this Friday — to make the case for the emergency.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday evening that while he is not sure how many Republicans would vote for the resolution, “there will not be enough to override” an expected Trump veto of the measure. A 2/3rds majority in each chamber is necessary to surpass the veto.
Trump appealed via Twitter on Monday:
I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
Democrats noted that Trump is declaring an emergency where none exists, and argued that he is seizing Congress’s Constitutional authority over government spending.
“I pray that the members of the House will have the conscience and the courage to protect the greatest Constitution the world has ever seen,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. “The American people will be watching.”
Apprehensions at the US-Mexico border are at their lowest level in 40 years. Government reports — which Trump calls “lies” — show that the vast majority of illegal drugs come through US ports of entry rather than across the border.
But House Minority Leader McCarthy insisted Monday, “Here what we’re finding is, yes, there is an emergency along the border.”
Some Republican senators disagreed. Susan Collins reiterated her intention to vote for the resolution overriding the emergency. Lisa Murkowski and Thom Tillis suggested this weekend they will do the same. Mitt Romney said Monday, “The emergency course is not one I favor,” and Marco Rubio objected to Trump’s seizure of money from the military, “You don’t solve one problem by creating another,” Rubio said.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security leaders issued a statement that Trump had no basis for the emergency declaration, and 24 former Republican members of Congress signed an open letter opposing the step.
The declaration also faces five lawsuits trying to block its implementation.