President Donald Trump’s move to declare a state of emergency is unconstitutional because lawmakers have repeatedly rejected funding for the very project Trump intends to use emergency funds to complete, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) explained on CNN Sunday morning.
“This is the first time a president has tried to declare an emergency when Congress explicitly rejected funding for the particular project that the president is advocating,” Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence, said on CNN’s State of the Union.
“And in saying just the other day that he didn’t really need to do this — he just wanted to do it because it would help things go faster — he’s pretty much daring the court to strike this down. So it’s hard to imagine a poorer case.”
Schiff said he sees this moment as a test for Republicans in Congress and whether they will stand up to Trump and deny him the ability to circumvent the legislative branch’s power.
“If we give away, surrender the power of the purse, which is our most important power, there will be little check and no balance left,” the California lawmaker said. “It will not be a separation of powers anymore. Just a separation of parties. So this is going to be a moment of truth for my GOP colleagues.”
Lawmakers are hoping to pass a joint resolution to terminate the state of emergency declared by the president.
CNN host Dana Bash asked whether Schiff believes Congress should change the law and eliminate the president’s ability to declare a state of emergency without congressional input entirely. Schiff answered that he believes that would be a bad idea.
“There are reasons why a president should have an ability to declare an emergency — that is, under a real emergency,” the congressman said.
“The [risk] is that we limit the president’s power to act when it really is necessary, when it is not practical to bring the Congress into session on a moment’s notice. But this president doesn’t care about future presidents. He only cares about himself. And in this case, he only cares about placating his conservative critics.”
Trump officially declared a state of emergency Friday, infuriating members of Congress from both parties. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described it as an “end run around Congress,” while Republicans have raised red flags about the precedent Trump’s decision might set.
“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said last week, ahead of the declaration, which had been expected for weeks.
“Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal,” Rubio said.
Trump’s argument that there is a crisis at the southern border is not backed up by facts.
In recent months, for example, he has claimed that 4,000 suspected “terrorists” came across the border last year. However, only 41 people cited on CBP’s Terrorist Screening Database were stopped along the southern border between October 2017 and March 2018, according to an NBC report, and of that number, only six were categorized as “non-U.S. persons.” The remainder were U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents.
Trump’s move to declare a state of emergency has, as Schiff noted, will undoubtedly be challenged in court, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced they will sue over the announcement.
“This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “We will be filing a lawsuit early next week.”