The White House announced that President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to secure his long-desired wall on Thursday.
Congressional aides indicated Trump could seek to divert as much as $21 billion from the Pentagon in order to build the wall he has claimed Mexico would fund, an aggressive move that has already drawn intense criticism from both parties.
Though Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) expressed their support for the plan, other Republican lawmakers immediately raised concerns about the president’s latest attempt to save face with his base — questioning both the legality and the precedent it may set for a future Democratic president.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters that declaring a national emergency to build a border wall would be “a mistake on the part of the president” of “dubious constitutionality.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voiced similar criticisms, noting, “The Constitution’s pretty clear: spending originates and is directed by Congress, so I’m not really for it.”
In a statement, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said “no crisis justifies violating the Constitution” and warned that “a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), who was the chair of the House Republican Caucus until last month, also tweeted a warning about potential implications of Trump’s precedent.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seemingly affirmed those concerns, as did Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), both 2020 presidential candidates, on Twitter. Pelosi, for instance, noted that a Democratic president could use the precedent Trump sets with his fabricated emergency to declare gun violence a national emergency.
“That’s a national emergency,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday, the anniversary of the Parkland school shooting. “Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President?… A Democratic president could.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Post that Democrats are prepared to take the president to court if he goes through with his plan to circumvent Congress. And they’re not alone — multiple organizations, like Public Citizen and Protect Democracy, said Thursday that they are preparing to file lawsuits challenging an emergency declaration.
Trump’s own Justice Department reportedly told the White House that an emergency declaration for a border wall is “nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on at least a temporary basis, preventing immediate implementation of the president’s plan to pay for the wall.”
But since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the president’s plan, after previously urging him not to take such a step, it seems unlikely that Trump will face any real consequences from his party.
Trump accused President Barack Obama of using executive actions to “subvert the Constitution” in 2014 “because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”
Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2014