Democrats in the US House of Representatives have moved forward with a resolution to block US President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, calling it an unconstitutional “power grab”.
The resolution has garnered overwhelming support from Democrats in the House, but its chances in the Republican-controlled Senate are unclear.
Some Republican senators have voiced concern over the president’s declaration, meaning that the measure could pass in the upper chamber and set up the possibility that Trump would veto it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she and other lawmakers who support the resolution are taking the action to uphold and protect the Constitution.
“The president’s declaration clearly violates Congress’ exclusive power of the purse,” Pelosi said, referring to the text of the constitution.
She added that Trump is “dishonouring the office in which he serves” with the declaration.
Pelosi told reporters on a conference call that the resolution would be put up for a vote in the House early next week and predicted it would pass in the Democrat-controlled chamber, adding that she hopes it will receive bipartisan support.
She said she has written a letter to all members of the House urging them to support the resolution.
“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, quoting the letter.
“We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution and defend our system of checks and balances against the president’s assault,” she continued.
Pelosi, whose agenda yesterday included a visit to the US-Mexico border, also said Trump’s claim that there is a crisis at the border is false.
Representative Joaquin Castro, sponsor of the resolution, said that Trump’s emergency declaration is an “unconstitutional power grab” and an attempt to undermine the judiciary and the legislative branches.
“This is a historic power grab and it will require historic unity,” Castro said on the call.
The resolution so far has more than 220 supporters in the 435-member House, but only one Republican is among them, he said.
If the resolution makes it to Trump’s desk, it could lead to a veto, which would be the first of his administration, and it likely would be sustained.
Trump set the stage for the constitutional clash when he declared a national emergency last week, saying that it was necessary because the situation at the US-Mexico border requires construction of a wall.
The declaration came as Trump agreed to spending legislation that averted a second government shutdown.
The bills included about $1.375bn dollars to build border barriers, but that was far less than Trump sought.
Trump intends to use executive action and the national emergency declaration to free up more money to build hundreds of kilometres of barriers on the southern frontier.
Some of the money is to come from the Pentagon’s construction budget and drug forfeitures.
Trump made building a wall along the border one of his top campaign promises.
He maintains that it is necessary to stop illegal immigration, crime and drugs.
Trump tweeted a photo of a construction site on Thursday, saying that the wall already is being built.
“We have just built this powerful Wall in New Mexico,” Trump said on Twitter. “Completed on January 30, 2019 – 47 days ahead of schedule! Many miles more now under construction!”
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