US House to vote on blocking Trump emergency

United States House lawmakers on Tuesday are expected to pass a Democratic measure annulling President Donald Trump’s declared emergency on the southern border, an effort that appeared to earn growing support among Senate Republicans.

Trump’s February 15 emergency declaration gives him access to billions of dollars to construct his wall on the Mexican border, beyond the nearly $1.4-billion that Congress allocated for construction of border barriers.

But the House of Representatives, run since January by Democrats, has the support necessary to terminate the emergency, dealing a stern rebuke to a president controversially seeking to expand his executive powers.

Should the measure clear Congress and reach his desk, Trump would be cornered into issuing the first veto of his presidency, an embarrassing development because the measure seeks to directly rein in the president’s authority.

The House vote, expected Tuesday afternoon, will serve to “defend our democracy,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Monday.


Trump’s top Democratic rival in Congress warned that his emergency order was tantamount to an unconstitutional attempt to seize executive authority by taking lawmaker’s power to control how federal funds are spent.

“The president’s power grab usurps that responsibility and fundamentally violates the balance of power envisioned by our founders,” said Pelosi, who has noted that the measure already has 226 supporters in the 435-member body.

After clearing the House, the measure would receive a vote in the US Senate. Republicans control the chamber, 53-47, but several senators in Trump’s party returned to Washington after a one-week break to express deep reservations about Trump’s end run around Congress to obtain wall funding.

Trump sought to head them off early Monday, saying he hoped Republicans “don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security.”

“Be strong and smart,” Trump tweeted. “Don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!”

‘Creating another’ problem

Trump and the White House have pressed on with plans to repurpose more than $6-billion from other sources, mostly already-allocated funds in the Defense Department budget.

He has repeatedly declared that rampant illegal immigration is fuelling a border crisis, leading to higher crime and strains on public services.

Two key groups — dozens of Republican former lawmakers, and a bipartisan group of former national security officers including secretaries of defence and CIA directors — spoke out strongly against the emergency declaration.

In open letters Monday, they warned of an abuse of the framework of the US Constitution.

“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,” said the 58 national security officials, who include former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, and George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns.

As pressure in Washington mounted, some Republican lawmakers appeared to buckle.

GOP Senator Thom Tillis said in a column that while Trump is “rightfully frustrated with Congress’s inaction” on border security, the president made a mistake declaring an emergency and Tillis will support the Democrats’ resolution of disapproval.

“I have grave concerns when our institution looks the other way at the expense of weakening Congress’s power,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have also signalled their likelihood to support the resolution.

“The emergency course is not one I favor,” Senator Mitt Romney told reporters.

“I don’t think you solve one problem by creating another one, which is taking money out of military construction — and there’s separation of powers (issues) as well,” added Senator Marco Rubio.

“I don’t like it, and my vote will reflect that.”

If all Senate Democrats support the resolution, only four Republicans would be needed for it to pass the Senate.

Trump has said he is “100 percent” certain to issue a veto, deepening a political showdown on Capitol Hill and setting up a series of legal battles.

Republicans have said Democrats likely do not have the votes — two-thirds majorities required in both chambers — to override a Trump veto.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Michael Mathes
Michael Mathes
AFP US politics/Congress correspondent, lifelong human.

Related stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

The challenges of delivering a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa requires a new approach

It is imperative that we train healthcare workers and participate in continent-wide collaboration

Why would anyone vote for Trump?

COMMENT: For this gay, white soldier there simply isn’t a good enough challenger to knock him off his perch

Spain detains software creator McAfee wanted in US

The announcement of his arrest comes a day after US prosecutors released an indictment against McAfee for allegedly failing to report income

Richard Calland: South Africa needs a Roosevelt style of leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to hold ‘fireside chats’ and have more power and institutional muscle around him, writes Richard Calland
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba

Epic fail: Africa’s Fortnite battle

Forced onto the backfoot by poor ping and overseas servers, African gamers are getting creative in an attempt to play one of the biggest competitive games. In the second instalment of our gaming corner, we chat to some of the innovators

Eastern Cape universities concerned by rising Covid cases

Fort Hare says 26 more students have tested positive while Walter Sisulu University says some of its students have been admitted to hospital.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday