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House will vote Tuesday on bill to block Trump's border wall 'emergency'

By Nicholas Sakelaris
House will vote Tuesday on bill to block Trump's border wall 'emergency'
President Donald Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on February 5. Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The House will vote Tuesday on legislation to block President Donald Trump's emergency declaration that seeks to build a border wall without Congressional approval.

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, filed a joint resolution in the House Friday morning to axe the president's declaration.

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Pelosi urged lawmakers to defend Trump's "decision to ignore the bounds of the law."

More than 220 lawmakers have co-sponsored the bill, including one Republican.

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"The president's act is lawless and does violence to our Constitution, and therefore, to our democracy," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday from the border town of Laredo, Texas. "Not only is he disrespecting the legislative branch and the Constitution of the United States, he is dishonoring the office in which he serves."

Tuesday, Pelosi said the House would vote on the measure Tuesday.

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Pelosi visited the U.S.-Mexico border to dispel the claims by Trump that there's an emergency situation there. In a letter to lawmakers this week, she said Trump's move "undermines the separation of powers and Congress's power of the purse."

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"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.

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.

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.

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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. Democrats are framing this as a constitutional issue that they hope will win over Senate Republicans.

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.

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