Led by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), approximately 92 members of the House of Representatives have signed on to a joint resolution aimed at terminating President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Castro tweeted his intent to draft a resolution late last week, shortly after the president announced he will bypass Congress in order to secure the funds to build a wall along the southern border by manufacturing a crisis.
“The President is declaring an emergency over a crisis that does not exist,” Castro said in a statement. “This unfounded declaration would take money away from actual, identified national security needs.”
“The joint resolution I am introducing, along with my cosponsors, will allow Congress an opportunity to reclaim its authority and jurisdiction under the Constitution,” he added.
Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), who represents a border district, joined Castro in signing the resolution. No Republicans have currently signed on to the resolution.
Democrats plan on introducing the measure on Friday, Reuters reported. Castro and the nearly 100 members of Congress who support the measure are filing the resolution under the National Emergencies Act, which allows Congress to terminate a national emergency made by the president through expedited legislative procedures via joint resolution. Under the National Emergencies Act, a joint resolution to terminate a declared national emergency must be reported out of committee within 15 calendar days and considered on the floor within three calendar days after being reported. The joint resolution must then be referred to the Senate, where it will follow an identical process and timeline.
The joint resolution will likely pass in the House, where Democrats hold the majority. It will face a more difficult path in the Republican-controlled Senate, however. Which isn’t to say that some Republicans won’t defect — a number of conservative senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), have voiced their concerns about the precedent this potentially unconstitutional declaration of national emergency will set.
“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Rubio said last week. “Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”
It’s not just members of Congress who are attempting to block Trump from building his wall by national emergency. Attorneys general from 16 states filed a lawsuit against the president, arguing the emergency declaration would be unconstitutional because Congress is vested with the power of the purse and did not approve funds. In the lawsuit, the attorneys general specifically used the president’s own words against him as proof that the “emergency” at the border really wasn’t an emergency at all.
“In explaining his rationale for the Executive Actions,” they wrote, “the President candidly admitted that the emergency declaration reflected his personal preference to construct the wall more quickly, rather than an actual urgent need for it to be built immediately: ‘I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.'”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) reiterated this point in an interview with The New York Times this week, saying, “Probably the best evidence [that there is no emergency at the border] is the president’s own words.”
The declaration of a national emergency will allow Trump to raid $6.6 billion from a combination of federal asset forfeiture funds, Defense Department anti-drug efforts, and military construction projects. This figure doesn’t include the additional $1.37 billion approved by Congress in a spending bill last week that would allow for an additional 55 miles of border wall to be constructed along the Rio Grande.