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Trump can reallocate military funding for border wall, federal judge decides

President Donald Trump makes a statement after taking a tour of border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif., on March 13, 2018. (K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
June 03, 2019

A U.S. district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by House Democrats which sought to block President Trump’s emergency border wall funding.

Judge Trevor McFadden said the House did not have legal grounds to bring such a lawsuit, which resembled an attempt to circumvent the political process, CNN reported Monday.

“The Court declines to take sides in this fight between the House and the President,” McFadden wrote.

“This case presents a close question about the appropriate role of the Judiciary in resolving disputes between the other two branches of the Federal Government. To be clear, the court does not imply that Congress may never sue the Executive to protect its powers,” he added.

In the lawsuit, Democrats took aim at Trump’s actions, which invoked powers granted by the National Emergency Act in declaring the southern border a national emergency, thus permitting the emergency reallocation of funds to address the crisis.

Trump’s proclamation ordered the reallocation of $7 billion to construct more sections of wall on the southern border.

Democrats argued that reallocating funds in this many was a violation of the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution – the clause that grants Congress the power to designate federal spending.

They argued that Trump had “flouted the fundamental separation-of-powers principles and usurped for itself legislative power specifically vested by the Constitution in Congress.”

McFadden, however, remarked that Democrats can pursue other alternatives in their effort to block Trump’s actions.

“Congress has several political arrows in its quiver to counter perceived threats to its sphere of power,” he wrote. “These tools show that this lawsuit is not a last resort for the House. And this fact is also exemplified by the many other cases across the country challenging the administration’s planned construction of the border wall.”

“The House retains the institutional tools necessary to remedy any harm caused to this power by the Administration’s actions. Its Members can, with a two-thirds majority, override the President’s veto of the resolution voiding the National Emergency Declaration. They did not. It can amend appropriations laws to expressly restrict the transfer or spending of funds for a border wall under Sections 284 and 2808. Indeed, it appears to be doing so,” McFadden explained, as reported by Fox News.

A group of 100 former House members jointly signed an amicus brief in which they declared, “Rarely in our Nation’s history has the Executive Branch launched such an assault on Congress’s exclusive legislative powers.”

“Without action by this Court to prevent the Administration’s usurpation of congressional authority, the unchecked expansion of the Executive’s power at the expense of the Legislative Branch will threaten our democracy,” the brief added.