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Homeland Security

House Votes to Revoke Trump's Border Emergency

By Ken Bredemeier, Chris Hannas February 26, 2019

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to revoke President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build a wall without congressional authorization along the country's southern border with Mexico.

Democrats, with a majority in the House, introduced the bill after Trump's Feb. 15 declaration, arguing his actions went against the constitutional separation of powers that gives Congress control over how federal money is spent.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 285-182, now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, which will have 18 days to consider it, but the outcome there is uncertain.

Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority, but two Republican lawmakers, Susan Collins and Thom Tillis, have already declared their opposition to the emergency declaration. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she also is likely to vote to revoke it. Other Republicans also have expressed opposition to Trump's action but have not said whether they will actually vote against it.

Tillis wrote Tuesday in an opinion piece in The Washington Post that as a senator, he "cannot justify providing the executive (Trump) with more ways to bypass Congress," while also voicing fears that a future Democratic president would use another declaration of a national emergency to force through policies he or she opposes.

Sensing opposition in the Senate, Trump cajoled Republicans Monday to not join Democrats in voting against his emergency declaration.

"I hope our great Republican Senators don't get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security," Trump said on Twitter. "Without strong Borders, we don't have a Country - and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don't fall into the Democrats 'trap' of Open Borders and Crime!"

Trump said he will veto any congressional resolution against his emergency declaration, which would force both houses of Congress to muster a two-thirds majority to override the veto, which is unlikely.

Such an outcome in the coming weeks would leave the dispute over Trump's action to be decided in numerous lawsuits that have been filed seeking to block him from carrying out his intention of building more than 320 kilometers of new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by tapping funds authorized for other government programs.

Trump has said he expects to lose the initial legal skirmishes over the border wall, but eventually win in the Supreme Court.

The U.S. leader has argued since his 2016 campaign for president that the United States needs a wall to stop people from entering the country illegally and to interdict the flow of illegal drugs.

He demanded Congress approve $5.7 billion in spending for wall construction, but Democrats refused, saying a wall is an expensive and ineffective way to address border security issues. Instead, they agreed to a border security spending package that included nearly $1.4 billion for about 90 kilometers of border barriers in Texas.

Trump's emergency declaration allows him to reallocate about $6 billion in money already approved for other purposes, most of it from the Defense Department.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of 58 former U.S. national security officials issued a statement saying Trump had "no factual basis" to declare a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Signatories included former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, along with former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former United Nations Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former defense chief and Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta and former State Department Counselor Eliot Cohen.

Another letter from 28 former Republican members of Congress expressed their disapproval for Trump's declaration, saying it undermined both Congress and the Constitution.

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