Political News

House Democrats introduce resolution to block Trump's national emergency, Trump vows to veto

Posted February 22, 2019 11:03 a.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2019 3:56 p.m. EST

— House Democrats introduced a resolution Friday to block President Donald Trump's effort to build a wall on the southern border through his emergency powers, setting up votes in Congress to rebuke the President's proclamation, even though Trump has promised to veto the measure.

In a call with reporters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and the author of the resolution, argued that Trump's emergency declaration undermined Congress's constitutional power of the purse.

"The President's act is lawless," Pelosi said. "It does violence to our Constitution and therefore to our democracy. His declaration strikes at the heart of our Founders' concept of America, which demands separation of powers."

The Democratic-controlled House appears all but certain to pass the resolution Tuesday and put pressure on Republicans in the Senate, many of whom have concerns with Trump's action. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who now supports the President's decision, had previously said he wanted to avoid it.

Still, even if the resolution passed, Trump could veto it -- as he promised to do in comments he made Friday from the White House -- forcing Congress to override it with a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House.

"On the wall? Will I veto it? 100%," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "And I don't think it survives the veto. We have too many smart people that want border security, so I can't imagine it can survive a veto. But I will veto it, yes."

White House officials expect the resolution to pass the House easily, noting the only thing Trump's team can do is try to keep the bill's margin of victory from being embarrassingly large, according to a White House aide. Castro said Friday that around 226 lawmakers have already co-sponsored the resolution, underscoring that there is enough support to pass it in the House.

Trump declared a national emergency last week after he signed a spending bill that would keep the government open and provide $1.375 billion for a border wall, billions less than he had sought for his top domestic priority.

For weeks, the President and his top officials had argued that there is a "crisis" on the southern border. Democrats pushed against that argument.

"There is no emergency at the border," said Castro, who added there are more resources committed to the border than ever before at a time when border crossings are historically low.

Pelosi echoed those comments at an event in Laredo, Texas, later Friday.

"There is no emergency at this border," Pelosi said, taking questions from students and faculty at the Texas A&M International University. She added, "If there was we'd all be there with him."

According to federal data, Customs and Border Protection apprehended nearly 400,000 people along the Southwest border in fiscal year 2018, an increase from 2017 but a decrease from 2016. Many of those apprehended were claiming asylum.

When he declared a national emergency on the border a week ago, Trump reiterated his claims of an "invasion" of drugs and undocumented immigrants at the southern border, but offered little factual or statistical evidence to back up his claim that a national emergency exists.

Instead, he refuted statistics -- many from his own administration -- that show that border crossings are at record lows, that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans and that most drugs coming across the southern border flow through legal ports of entry.

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.