Congress

One House Republican joined Democrats to stop Trump’s border wall national emergency

216 members had signed on as of Thursday afternoon

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is leading the joint resolution of disapproval. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

About an hour before an announced deadline for original co-sponsors on a Democratic-led effort to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over border security, one Republican had signed on.

At the same time, the measure had already gathered support from 216 members, almost all of them members of the House Democratic caucus.

That’s according to the office of Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and is spearheading the joint resolution. It wasn’t immediately clear which GOP lawmaker had signed on early.

Castro announced his intention Feb. 14, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday night called on House members to back his effort. In a Dear Colleague letter, the California Democrat said the measure would move “swiftly” through the chamber, following the legal framework for expedited consideration under the National Emergencies Act.

The Pelosi letter specified a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for the initial round of co-sponsorships before Castro files the legislation on Friday, when the House is scheduled to meet in a pro-forma session.

The law provides a path for Congress to weigh in to reject a presidential emergency declaration, but the joint resolution would need either a presidential signature or a two-thirds vote in each chamber to eventually override a Trump veto.

“All Members take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution. The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,” Pelosi wrote. “We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.”

The text of Castro’s resolution appears to be “clean,” meaning it should get expedited consideration in the Senate as well, where it would have a chance of passage without needing 60 votes to break a filibuster.

“Historically, Presidents have declared national emergencies for urgent matters of national security. President Trump would unconstitutionally usurp congressional authority by declaring an emergency based upon unfounded hype rather than any substantive emergency,” Castro said in a statement last week, announcing his potential plan just a day before Trump actually made the declaration

And the effort to stop the use of an emergency declaration to seize funds for construction of the wall at the border with Mexico should get at least some Republican support in the Senate, including from Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

“If the House passes a resolution of disapproval and it is a clean resolution, I will support that,” Collins told reporters in South Portland on Wednesday. “There have been many of my colleagues on the Republican side who are very wary of the president’s actions because they don’t want a future Democratic president reallocating funds.”

Collins said is also supportive of the separate legal action being taking by 16 states to try to stop the emergency declaration, according to the Portland Press-Herald.

There’s been some skepticism on both sides of the Capitol about Trump’s attempted end-run around the usual restrictions of the appropriations process.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee was perhaps most direct, but the Energy-Water subcommittee chairman was not alone.

“It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses,” Alexander had said in a statement. “The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.”

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said that a Senate companion to the joint resolution would be coming.

“If the president’s emergency declaration prevails, it will fundamentally change the balance of powers in a way our country’s founders never envisioned. That should be a serious wake up call to senators in both parties who believe in the constitutional responsibility of Congress to limit an overreaching executive,” the New York Democrat said.

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