WASHINGTON — House Democrats filed a resolution of disapproval Friday that would terminate the national emergency declaration made by President Donald Trump earlier this month, saying the president’s move violates authority vested in Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, also claimed the president’s emergency is a crisis manufactured to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
“What the president is attempting is an unconstitutional power grab,” said Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “This is a historic power grab.”
The resolution, filed by Castro, is expected to clear the House Rules Committee and come to the full floor for a vote Tuesday, Pelosi told reporters on a teleconference call from Laredo.
“We do not have a monarch, we have a separation of powers,” Pelosi said. “This is an institutional assault.”
Castro said there were 227 co-sponsors to the bill, all Democrats except Republican Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.
All three of Nevada’s congressional Democrats, Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, signed onto the bill as original co-sponsors.
“We cannot allow this grotesque abuse of power to go unchallenged,” Titus said in a social media post.
Horsford said the president’s declaration would allow him to redirect funds approved for Pentagon projects, including $97 million in military construction projects at Creech Air Force Base, Nellis Air Force Base and a National Guard readiness center in North Las Vegas.
Horsford said in a statement that he would work to “protect Nevada’s military personnel and their families from the president’s unconstitutional action.”
Lee said the declaration “is an overreach of executive power that diverts money away from disaster relief, drug enforcement and national security projects.”
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., told reporters after a breakfast meeting with business leaders in Las Vegas on Friday that the president is “using the tools he’s got available.” He termed the Democratic resolution political talking points.
Earlier this month, House and Senate lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a spending bill that allocated $1.375 billion for border fencing and other security measures, but no money for a wall.
Trump signed that bill into law to avoid another government shutdown, then declared a national emergency to access Pentagon and Treasury funds to build the wall, a signature 2016 campaign pledge and one he said Mexico would finance.
The declaration would allow the president to tap into Pentagon funds designated for drug interdiction and military construction projects, as well as asset forfeiture funds collected by the Treasury Department in drug cases.
Lawsuits challenge declaration
Trump’s declaration was immediately met with lawsuits, including one filed by Texas landowners on the border and another by 16 states with Democratic governors, including Nevada.
The states claimed in their lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that Trump’s declaration was an unconstitutional attempt to usurp congressional authority on the authorization and appropriation of federal funds.
Trump predicted the lawsuit and challenges, and said he’s prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The resolution of disapproval is widely expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House, and several Republicans in the Senate, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have voiced concern about the precedent the Trump declaration would set.
Pelosi said a future president could cite the precedent to take unilateral action on other issues, like gun control.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would be forced to bring the House-passed resolution to the Senate floor for a vote, where it could pass with several GOP defections. It would then go to Trump, who is expected to veto the bill.
“Will I veto it? 100 percent,” Trump told reporters Frdiay at the White House.
A Senate override of the veto with a two-thirds majority would be unlikely.
What’s a resolution of disapproval?
In this case, it’s an official, one-sentence statement that says President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration “is hereby terminated.”
The resolution is almost certain to pass the Democratic-controlled House. If it also survives the Senate, Trump would be expected to veto it. Congress is not expected to muster the two-thirds majority to override a veto, which means Trump’s declaration could move forward.
But no president wants a rebuke from his own party.
The math: The Senate is controlled by a 53-47 Republican majority. So it would take four Republicans voting with every Democrat to pass the measure and send it to Trump.
More than four have voiced significant discomfort with Trump’s move.
The Associated Press