Speaker Nancy Pelosi is throwing her muscle behind a legislative effort to block President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, the first formal step to counter Trump and squeeze Republicans on the border wall.
Democrats will introduce legislation Friday to terminate the emergency proclamation and Pelosi is urging House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the resolution, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO on Wednesday.
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“I write to invite all Members of Congress to cosponsor Congressman Joaquin Castro’s privileged resolution to terminate this emergency declaration,” Pelosi wrote, noting that the House will “move swiftly to pass this bill.”
“The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,” she added.
Pelosi sent the letter to both Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday night, a rare occurrence that underscores the seriousness with which the speaker plans to try to block Trump’s effort to go around Congress and build his border wall.
“We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault,” Pelosi wrote.
Aides for Castro, who is leading the effort, circulated an email Wednesday afternoon announcing plans to introduce the resolution of disapproval after Trump’s declaration was published in the Federal Register this week.
Democrats are also expected to file a lawsuit to halt Trump’s effort to circumvent Congress to build his border wall.
Trump issued the emergency proclamation Friday after signing a bill that funds the government through September, including allocating $1.375 billion for border fencing. Trump’s declaration allows him to take about $6 billion more from other government accounts to put toward building his border wall.
It’s unclear when Democratic leaders would bring the measure up for a vote on the House floor, but it is expected to pass easily. The privileged resolution will automatically receive a vote on the Senate floor, forcing Republicans in both chambers to take a stand on Trump’s use of executive power, which some GOP lawmakers have already harshly criticized.
So far, more than 100 House Democrats have signed onto the resolution with more likely to join, according to a Democratic aide. Lawmakers wishing to co-sponsor it have until 3 p.m. Thursday to do so, according to the email from aides to Castro, who also serves as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
As soon as the House votes on the resolution, the clock starts for Senate GOP leaders, who are required under law to put the measure to a vote within 18 days.
It would take just four GOP senators to join with Democrats to approve the resolution, which appears quite plausible given Republican concern with Trump’s emergency declaration.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday became the first GOP senator to publicly say she would support the Democratic resolution, according to the AP. Speaking at a Coast Guard ceremony in her state, Collins said Trump’s move “completely undermines” the role of Congress.
Trump would be certain to issue the first veto of his presidency over the measure — though it is unlikely Congress could override him. In the House, more than 50 Republicans would need to join with Democrats to secure the needed 288 votes.
The Associated Press was first to report plans to introduce the resolution on Friday.