As the House of Representatives prepares to take up a resolution this week that would block President Donald Trump’s recent national emergency declaration over the southern border, some Republicans are pushing back on the president’s agenda. At least 23 former GOP senators and representatives say the constitution requires that Congress stand up to Trump on this issue.
After the longest partial government shutdown in American history failed to yield Trump the $5.7 billion he demanded to begin building a massive wall along the nation’s southern border, the president declared a “national emergency” and said he would build it anyway. The emergency declaration allows the president to circumvent Congress and use U.S. taxpayer dollars to build the border wall that he once promised Mexico would fund.
In response, the House will take up a resolution of disapproval on Tuesday. The resolution would block Trump’s ability to use the emergency to re-purpose funds. It is expected to pass the House and may also make it through the Senate (where will require only a simple majority), but is unlikely to survive a promised Trump veto.
As of now, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is the only House Republican co-sponsoring the resolution — but several former lawmakers hope he will not be the only one to vote for it.
In a letter released Monday, a group including former Sens. John Danforth (R-MO) Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Gordon Humphrey (R-NH), Dick Lugar (R-IN), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with more than a dozen former U.S. representatives, urged their onetime GOP colleagues to back the effort to block Trump’s emergency declaration.
“We who have signed this letter are no longer Members of Congress but that oath still burns within us,” they wrote. “That is why we are coming together to urge those of you who are now charged with upholding the authority of the first branch of government to resist efforts to surrender those powers to a president.” The letter also warns that if Republicans in Congress cede powers to Trump, a future president whose policies they “abhor” will someday “impose policies to which [they] are unalterably opposed.”
According to the Washington Post, Hagel — who served as Secretary of Defense after his senate retirement — is also among a group of at least 58 former senior national security officials from both parties who have signed onto a similar letter urging the so-called emergency to be terminated.
“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” wrote that group, which also includes former Secretary of States Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, former United Nations Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.