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Democrats Taking Unprecedented Step to Overturn Trump's Border Emergency Order

02-26-2019
Nancy Pelosi (Photo: AP)

Ignoring a veto threat, congressional Democrats voted Tuesday to overturn President Trump's emergency declaration. The Democrat-controlled House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have made it their top priority since the president issued the declaration that allows him to access federal money to build a border wall. 

Thirteen Republicans joined all of their Democratic colleagues in voting for the measure, which now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate. 

In a press conference Monday ahead of the vote, House Democratic leadership accused President Trump of trampling on the Constitution, criticizing his decision to use other funds to support his plan. 

"The beauty of the Constitution, the heart and soul of the Constitution, is the separation of power — co-equal branches of government to be a balance of power," Pelosi said. "The Constitution spells out the responsibilities, giving the Congress of the United States, among other powers, the power of the purse. The president's power grab usurped that constitutional responsibility and fundamentally violates the balance of power envisioned by our founders."

Some Republicans have also questioned President Trump's right to utilize a national emergency to build the wall. Some conservatives are concerned that a measure to overturn Trump's declaration will also pass in the Republican-controlled Senate because multiple Senate Republicans have defected.

GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have indicated they will vote to block Trump's order. Tillis stated Monday that Congress must protect its "power of the purse," arguing a future Democratic president might abuse the power to advance "radical policies." Only a handful of GOP defectors are needed for the bill to pass. 

President Trump is prepared to use his first-ever veto to block the measure if it passes. However, the Trump administration wants to avoid that option by encouraging GOP senators to remain faithful to the plan. Vice President Pence is scheduled to discuss the measure with GOP senators during their weekly lunch, and President Trump took to Twitter to admonish leaders. 

"I hope our great Republican Senators don't get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Without strong Borders, we don't have a Country — and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don't fall into the Democrats 'trap' of Open Borders and Crime!"

CBN News Capitol Hill Correspondent Abigail Robertson has shared most Republicans are standing with the president.

"Before President Trump officially made this declaration, I spoke with quite a few Republican lawmakers who did not want to see this happen because they're worried about the precedent that it sets when a Democrat takes the White House," Robertson said. "But now we're seeing a lot of Republicans actually support the president on this now that he's done it because they think it was one of his only options to get the money for the border wall."

If the measure passes both houses of Congress and the president vetoes it, then Congress will have a chance to try and override the veto. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has ensured conservatives there won't be enough votes to overturn a veto.

As one of his top campaign promises, President Trump has been a strong advocate for the border wall. During the government shutdown battle earlier this month, Congress only granted him $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion he had asked for to build the wall. 

President Trump has been criticized for using the emergency declaration as a way to push his agenda. Since the declaration, 58 former national security officials have signed a joint statement stating there is no emergency at the border. 

"We are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies such a step," the former senior national security officials wrote, including Republican Chuck Hagel, a former Nebraska senator, and Defense secretary. "Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the President to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border."

And 28 former Republican lawmakers, including former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar (R-IN), sent an open letter to criticize the president as well. 

"How much are you willing to undermine both the Constitution and the Congress in order to advance a policy outcome that by all other legitimate means is not achievable?" wrote the former GOP leaders. 

This is the first time Congress has ever fought to overturn a national emergency.  

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