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Lawmakers expect vote to block Trump’s emergency order, and then face a veto

President Donald J. Trump delivers his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Shealah Craighead/White House)

U.S. lawmakers said Sunday that there may be support in Congress to disapprove Donald Trump’s order declaring an emergency to secure funding for a border wall, but not enough votes to overturn an expected veto.

Trump issued the order Friday to divert certain military funding for wall construction, after Congress approved only $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion he sought in a bipartisan budget bill to avoid a second partial government shutdown.

House Democrats may soon pass a resolution opposing the declaration, and Democrats in the Senate, while in the minority, could force a vote on it.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, both said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that they expect a resolution in Congress opposing Trump’s order to have enough votes to pass their respective chambers by simple majorities.

White House aide Stephen Miller suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump would then issue the first veto of his presidency.

“He is going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed,” said Miller, one Trump’s most hawkish advisers on immigration. He said U.S. law gives Trump the power to make the declaration.

Jordan said on ABC’s “This Week” that while he thinks the resolutions will pass, “when the president will veto them, I don’t think there’s any chance that the veto will be overridden.” Duckworth also questioned whether a Trump veto could be challenged.

“Now, whether we have enough for an override and veto, that’s a different story,” Duckworth said. “But frankly, I think there’s enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he’s doing is robbing from the military.”

At least three lawsuits have already been filed to block Trump from diverting funds previously approved by Congress. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that his state “definitely and imminently” will be suing to challenge the emergency declaration.

“We are prepared, we knew something like this might happen,” he said. “And with our sister state partners, we are ready to go.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the president may have doomed his legal arguments in any court challenge by asserting, during a rambling press conference in the White House Rose Garden, that he declared the emergency simply to make his border wall project move faster.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said Friday. “And I don’t have to do it for the election. I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election. 2020.”

Trump is “pretty much daring the court to strike this down,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s hard to imagine a poorer case.”

Trump’s emergency declaration will allow him to redirect $3.5 billion Congress approved for the Defense Department’s military construction budget. He’ll also use ordinary executive authority to reprogram $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interdiction efforts and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture program, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he’s heard from Republicans concerned that Trump’s declaration is unconstitutional and might take money from government projects they’ve supported.

“Republican after Republican is telling us that privately,” Brown said on CNN. “We will have a vote on this, likely in the next two or three weeks, to see if those Republicans show the backbone they’ve generally haven’t shown in standing up to the president in the past. This is more serious because it’s a constitutional question.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., echoed other Republicans who said the president has the authority to declare an emergency to stop human trafficking, and drugs and migrants from crossing the southern U.S. border.

“It is a crisis and emergency along our border,” McCarthy said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”


(Ben Brody, Tom Schoenberg and Hailey Waller contributed to this report.)


© 2019 Bloomberg News

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