Feb. 22 (UPI) — House Democrats will introduce a measure Friday to kill the emergency declaration from President Donald Trump that aims to build the border wall without approval from Congress.
Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is set to file a joint resolution in the House Friday morning that would axe the president’s declaration. The measure will be filed during the chamber’s pro forma session, since Congress won’t return from recess until Monday.
Nearly 100 House Democrats have co-sponsored the bill. In a letter to lawmakers this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s move “undermines the separation of powers and Congress’s power of the purse.”
The bill is expected to pass the House easily and set up a showdown in the Republican-controlled Senate. In the upper chamber, Republicans will have to choose between allying with the president or stopping what critics see as a presidential overreach.
“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 said.
Trump’s declaration last week gives him unilateral permission to siphon money from drug interdiction programs and Defense Department construction projects, for a total of $6.7 billion to put toward building a wall. Trump said he plans to combine that money with $1.4 billion Congress has already authorized for the purpose, which was included in a spending bill last week that averted another federal shutdown.
Congress can overrule a declared national emergency and House Democrats have the votes to do it with a 235-197 majority. Then, it goes to the Senate, where as “privileged” legislation it needs only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass. Democrats have 47 seats so they would need four Republicans to vote for it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can typically block bills from reaching the Senate floor, as he did during the shutdown last month. This case is different. Because the legislation is tied to a national emergency, the Senate must vote on it within 18 days.
Multiple Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida and Susan Collins of Main, have already expressed opposition to Trump’s declaration.
If passed by Congress, the bill would certainly be vetoed by Trump, and it’s unclear whether there would be enough GOP support in Congress for an override.