House Democrats set Tuesday vote on overturning Trump emergency declaration
WASHINGTON - The House will vote Tuesday, Feb. 26, on a measure rejecting President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, Feb. 22.
Pelosi's announcement came an hour after a disapproval resolution was filed in the House, and she told reporters on a conference call that she would waste no time putting it up for a vote once lawmakers return to Washington next week.
"The president's act is lawless - it does violence to our Constitution and therefore our democracy," Pelosi, D-Calif., said, arguing that Trump's Feb. 15 declaration violated the constitutional balance of powers by undermining Congress's authority to manage federal expenditures.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Tex., who authored the one-page resolution, said he had gathered at least 226 co-sponsors for his measure - more than enough to guarantee House passage. But only one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, has joined the bill so far.
Castro said he would continue calling Republicans over the weekend to build support for the measure and that he was hopeful many would ultimately vote with Democrats to reject the emergency.
"This is a historic power grab, and it will require historic unity by members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, to counteract the president's parasitic movement," he said on the conference call.
While House passage is all but assured, it is unclear whether a disapproval resolution can pass the Senate, where Republicans enjoy a 53 to 47 majority. Only one Senate Republican publicly offered support for a disapproval measure, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), though several other GOP senators have signaled discomfort with Trump's declaration.
Pelosi and other Democrats have tied to couch their arguments against the emergency declaration in constitutional and institutional terms, arguing that Congress cannot stand idly by while a president usurps the legislative branch's powers - hoping to win over conservatives who have been critical of the expansive use of executive powers in the federal government.
"We have a separation of powers in our country," Pelosi said. "We battled against a monarchy; we did not intend to establish one in our country."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also made such a case to Republicans in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday, arguing that Trump was moving to "subvert the will of Congress" and was "seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse" by spending billions of dollars on a border wall that Congress refused to fund.
"Whether you support the border wall or oppose it, you should be deeply troubled by the president's intent to obtain it through a plainly unconstitutional abuse of power," he said, adding, "The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out."
But Republicans have rarely defied Trump, usually on matters of foreign policy - such as his recent move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. A vote to disapprove of his national emergency declaration would represent a rejection of a signature domestic policy, a border wall, that remains overwhelmingly popular with GOP voters.
Trump's move is also being challenged in the federal courts, where several parties - including a coalition of Democratic-led states - have filed suit to overturn the emergency. Pelosi said Friday that House committees continue to study potential legal options for the legislature itself but have not settled on action.
"I'm not announcing anything today," she said.
This article was written by Mike DeBonis, a reporter for The Washington Post.