On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 245 to 182 to rescind President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration, his determination that because Congress did not give him the billions of taxpayer dollars he wanted for a border wall, it created a national emergency that should entitle him to build it anyway. Thirteen Republicans joined with the Democratic majority to reject the president’s power grab.
Trump announced the so-called emergency earlier this month, after his partial government shutdown failed to convince Congress to give him the more than $5 billion in appropriations he sought to build a wall along the nation’s southern border. Though he had repeatedly promised that the project would be entirely funded by Mexico, he declared that because a wall was urgently needed to prevent the flow of drugs and criminals into the United States, he will use emergency powers to move other money toward the effort. “I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I want to do it much faster,” he admitted at the time.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) even co-sponsored the resolution. He noted the hypocrisy of some in his caucus who vocally complained about Trump’s Democratic predecessor but now are okay with “executive overreach.”
The same congressional Republicans who joined me in blasting Pres. Obama’s executive overreach now cry out for a king to usurp legislative powers. If your faithfulness to the Constitution depends on which party controls the White House, then you are not faithful to it.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 23, 2019
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said he would support the resolution because he wants to “be consistent in preserving the constitutional structure of our Republic.”
In order to be consistent in preserving the constitutional structure of our Republic, I will be voting for the resolution to prevent the President from using a national emergency declaration to re-appropriate money for the wall.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) February 26, 2019
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) tweeted on Sunday that even though he strongly supports Trump’s proposed wall, he had serious concerns about “the precedent and implications.”
I support the President 100% on the need for stronger border security and a wall. But, I can’t deny my reservations about the precedent and implications the President’s large-scale Emergency Declaration, and its abuse by potential future Democrat administrations. pic.twitter.com/iTwukDml8Y
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) February 24, 2019
Banks, however, opposed the resolution as a “political pot shot” because it didn’t also “rein in” other “national emergency authorities.”
Dems resolution only terminates border security national emergency but does nothing to rein in national emergency authorities. This is a political pot shot pure & simple. Many of us would support efforts to reform executive national emergency authority but this DOES NOT do that. pic.twitter.com/cBecBoeDJH
— Jim Banks (@Jim_Banks) February 26, 2019
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) warned that this could set a precedent that would allow a liberal president to act to address climate change.
How would Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders use this precedent for a national disaster declaration to force the Green New Deal on the American people? pic.twitter.com/S0ECCS4ba6
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) February 14, 2019
A group of 23 former Republican lawmakers released a letter on Monday urging their former colleagues to back the resolution. They warned Congressional Republicans that if they allow a power grab like this now, a future president will “impose policies to which you are unalterably opposed.”
The resolution now moves to the Senate, where it will require only a simple majority to pass. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina have already signaled that they will join the Democratic minority in backing the resolution. Trump has voted to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk, though. With at least 289 House votes needed to override a veto (out of the 433 members currently serving) and 67 Senators, this effort is unlikely to actually become law, but does serve as a rare bipartisan rebuke to Trump’s actions.