House Dems to File Resolution Friday 02/21 06:39
House Democrats will file a resolution Friday aimed at blocking the national
emergency declaration that President Donald Trump has issued to help finance
his wall along the Southwest border, teeing up a clash over billions of
dollars, immigration policy and the Constitution's separation of powers.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats will file a resolution Friday aimed at
blocking the national emergency declaration that President Donald Trump has
issued to help finance his wall along the Southwest border, teeing up a clash
over billions of dollars, immigration policy and the Constitution's separation
Though the effort seems almost certain to ultimately fall short --- perhaps
to a Trump veto --- the votes will let Democrats take a defiant stance against
Trump that is sure to please liberal voters. They will also put some
Republicans from swing districts and states in a difficult spot.
Formally introducing the measure sets up a vote by the full House likely by
mid-March, perhaps as soon as next week, because of a timeline spelled out by
law. Initial passage by the Democratic-run House seems assured.
The measure would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where there
may be enough GOP defections for approval. The law that spells out the rules
for emergency declarations seems to require the Senate to address the issue
too, but there's never been a congressional effort to block one and some
procedural uncertainties remain.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., seemed to predict approval, telling
colleagues in a letter that her chamber will "move swiftly" to pass it and "the
resolution will be referred to the Senate and then sent to the President's
Should the House and Senate initially approve the measure, Congress seems
unlikely to muster the two-thirds majorities in each chamber that would be
needed later to override a certain Trump veto.
Even so, Republican senators facing tough 2020 re-election fights in
competitive states like Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina would have to take
stances that could risk dividing the GOP's pro-Trump and more moderate voters.
Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday she would back a
resolution blocking the declaration, making her the first Republican to
publicly state her support for the effort to thwart the emergency. With
Republicans holding a 53-47 majority, three more GOP senators would need to
vote with Democrats for the resolution to win initial approval.
The votes could also cause discomfort for other Republicans who've opposed
the declaration. Many have expressed concerns that Trump's declaration sets a
precedent for future Democratic presidents to declare emergencies to help their
own favored issues, like global warming or gun control.
The battle is over an emergency declaration Trump has issued to access
billions of dollars beyond what Congress has authorized to start erecting
border barriers. Building the wall was the most visible trademark of his
Congress approved a vast spending bill last week providing nearly $1.4
billion to build 55 miles of border barriers in Texas' Rio Grande Valley while
preventing a renewed government shutdown. That measure represented a rejection
of Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles.
Besides signing the bill, Trump also declared a national emergency and used
other authorities that he says gives him access to an additional $6.6 billion
for wall building. That money would be transferred from a federal asset
forfeiture fund, Defense Department anti-drug efforts and a military
construction fund. Federal officials have yet to identify specifically which
projects would be affected.
Pelosi and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, circulated separate letters
Wednesday to lawmakers seeking co-sponsors to his one-sentence resolution. A
Castro aide said there were already 102 co-sponsors, all Democrats. Both
letters targeted Friday for the measure's introduction.
While Congress is in recess this week, the House has a brief "pro forma"
session Friday for bill introductions but no votes.
Castro's measure says Trump's emergency declaration "is hereby terminated."
He chairs the 38-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
"The President's decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get
what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates
the Constitution and must be terminated," Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint
statement last week that lawmakers will use "every remedy available" to defend
Congress' powers, including in the courts.
Democratic aides said Wednesday that leaders were still deciding exactly
what legal action to take, and when.
Outside activists said they understood from conversations with congressional
staff that Democrats were likely to file their own lawsuit, rather than simply
joining other actions that 16 state attorneys general and liberal,
environmental and other organizations have commenced separately.
It remained unclear whether Democrats would wait for congressional action to
play out before going to the courts.
Speaking Tuesday about the attorneys general suit, Trump said he expected to
do "very well" in the case and said he had an "absolute right" to make the
Democrats and some Republicans say there is no emergency at the border. They
say Trump is improperly declaring one to work around Congress' rejection of the
Once a resolution of disapproval is introduced, the national emergency law
says it must be assigned to a committee, which has 15 calendar days to send it
to the full chamber. The House parliamentarian has assigned Castro's measure to
the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
That chamber then has three calendar days to vote on it. The timing could be
shortened, which is why a vote could occur more quickly.
The same procedure is then repeated in the second chamber. The law requires
those timetables unless either chamber votes to do otherwise. If McConnell
tries using that provision to delay the vote on the resolution, the vote on
slowing the measure will become the key showdown.
A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment on what the leader will do.