House Democrats Push Back Against President Trump's National Emergency Declaration
Tuesday evening, the House voted on a measure to block the President’s declaration of a national emergency to appropriate funds for a wall on the southern border. The resolution to block this declaration passed with 245 in favor and 182 opposed. Democrats voting in favor were joined by 13 House Republicans.
Those opposed to President Trump’s emergency declaration have stated that the action was an overreach of executive power, because the U.S. Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to appropriate money.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called on Republicans to join Democrats in their effort ”to defend the Constitution,” stating that this issue ”transcends partisan politics.”
Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, wrote a piece in the Washington Post asserting that while he agrees with the President’s vision for security at the southern border, he will vote against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency as a way of securing funds for the project:
“Although Trump certainly has legitimate grievances over congressional Democrats’ obstruction of border-security funding, his national emergency...was not the right answer,” he wrote.
Tillis continued, “As a U.S. Senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress. As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to…erode economic and individual freedoms.”
Top Republicans in the Senate and House have communicated their support for Trump’s use of declaring a national emergency to fund the border wall. House Minority Leader and California Republican Kevin McCarthy said, “We face a humanitarian and national security crisis at the border that must be addressed.”
Critics of the President have noted that Trump’s decision to bypass Congress through executive action contradicts his open criticisms of Obama-era executive actions. In multiple televised interviews with Fox News and various other speeches, including an interview with Bill O’Reilly in which he announced his intention to run for president in 2016, Mr. Trump stated his disapproval of President Obama’s executive orders, often claiming that instead, the President should be “making deals.”
In a 2014 interview with Fox & Friends, Trump went so far as to say that Obama’s executive action protecting immigrants from deportation was grounds for impeachment.
The President himself said that he did not need to declare a national emergency but did because he wanted to expedite construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“I want to do it faster,” President Trump claimed in a press conference. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that he expected the Senate to vote on this same resolution before their next recess on March 18, and it is unclear what the outcome of that vote will be. If every Senate Democrat votes against the President’s emergency declaration, only four Republican Senators would be needed to match the House’s decision. Three Republicans have already declared that they will vote in line with Democrats.
President Trump has preemptively stated that he is prepared to use his veto power if the Senate joins the House in attempting to block the national emergency declaration. When asked about the potential of Congress to override the President’s veto, Trump tweeted, “They will not. The votes will not be there.”