Updated 9:34 p.m. | The House will vote on a resolution of disapproval that would push back on President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to free up more funds for a wall along the southern border, according to New York Democrat Nydia M. Velázquez. But a leadership aide said no such decision about a vote has been made.
Velázquez said the timing of the vote had not yet been settled on but added that the disapproval resolution sponsored by Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro would be the first vote taken. Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that he was “prepared to introduce a resolution to terminate the President’s emergency declaration under 50 U.S.C. 1622. (National Emergencies Act)” if Trump made such a move.
Velázquez also noted that there are discussions about moving other bills such as one she introduced to prevent money Congress appropriated for disaster relief from being used for the wall.
The aide said it would be impossible for leaders to decide a path forward until they see what Trump does. Trump hasn’t yet declared a national emergency but is expected to do so Friday as he signs the fiscal 2019 appropriations package Congress is preparing to send him Thursday night.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Democrats will weigh their options for a response, including taking legal action. She was asked about the possibility of scheduling a vote that would put Republicans on record over Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency but declined to confirm if she would do that.
“I don’t believe that there’s any good faith negotiations to have with the Republicans in Congress if they’re going to support the president doing an end-run about what the will of the people, the Congress of the United States, has put forth,” the California Democrat said. “So we will review our options and I’m not prepared to give any preference to any one of them right now.”
Velázquez, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, is concerned that Trump may use the national emergency declaration to take money from the relief effort to help the U.S. territory with its recovery from the 2017 hurricanes that ravaged the island.
“There is not a national emergency at our border,” she said Thursday, appealing directly to Trump. “A national emergency is when 3.4 million American citizens endure the longest blackout on American history after a hurricane. … A national emergency is what your administration caused in Puerto Rico.”
Velázquez spoke alongside a handful of Democrats from California and New York in opposition to the national emergency.
Rep. John Garamendi mentioned several Army Corps of Engineer projects in California that Trump may target. He also has a bill that would prevent Trump from raiding disaster relief funds.
In addition to legislative action, the members said that they expected a coordinated legal response from Democrats inside and outside Congress and that the state of California was likely to be involved.
“There appears to be plenty of opportunities for lawsuits here,” Garamendi said, noting there’s been discussion of that at the leadership level.
Pelosi said she “may” mount a legal challenge against the declaration but did not not want to commit to anything until seeing Trump’s explanation for his action.
Also watch: What is a national emergency? How Congress gave the White House broad, far-reaching powers