House Counters ‘National Emergency’ Edict by Trump

President Donald Trump speaks during a National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (CN) — House Democrats introduced a resolution Friday to block President Donald Trump from funding his long-promised wall along the U.S-Mexico border by declaring a national emergency.

Formally setting off a showdown between Congress and the White House, the resolution was submitted by Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who chairs the House Hispanic Caucus. 

“What the president is attempting is an unconstitutional power grab, ” Castro told reporters Friday morning.

The move comes one week after Trump announced he was declaring a national emergency to free up money for his wall.

Castro had been publicly discussing his intention to introduce the resolution for more than a week, starting when the White House first confirmed Trump’s plan to declare an emergency. The congressman said he has been working on the details of the resolution for about six weeks.

Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can terminate a president’s national emergency declaration by passing a resolution through both the House and the Senate. Because the bill would need Trump’s signature, it will essentially require veto-proof majorities in each chamber in order to take effect.

In a dear-colleague letter sent out earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., encouraged members to co-sponsor Castro’s resolution. She said Friday the House will vote on the resolution this coming Tuesday.

“President Trump’s emergency declaration proclamation undermines the separation of powers and Congress’ power of the purse, a power exclusively reserved by the text of the Constitution to the first branch of government, the legislative branch, a branch co-equal to the executive,” Pelosi’s letter states.

The Senate is required to hold a vote on the resolution within 18 days after it passes the House. Castro said Friday that the resolution has at least 226 co-sponsors, including Republican Representative Justin Amash, of Michigan. 

In a conference call with reporters Friday, Pelosi urged Republicans to support the resolution alongside Democrats, saying the vote is about more than support for Trump’s border wall.

“We have a responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution and in that Constitution is the institution of the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi told reporters Friday. “We should do everything in our power to strengthen the institution in which we serve and not weaken it.”

Apart from opposition in Congress, Trump’s declaration last week of a national emergency spurred a host of legal challenges in courts across the country..

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