February 28, 2019

Udall leads Senate effort to reverse Trump’s emergency declaration

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Screenshot from C-SPAN

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall introducing a bill to reverse President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is leading the bipartisan effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. The New Mexico senator says the president overstepped his constitutional powers.

Udall and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins announced the legislation to block Trump’s national emergency declaration. In early February, Trump declared a national emergency to divert billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense to construct a border wall.

In a floor speech Thursday, Udall positioned the bill as not about the border wall, but about the powers that Congress holds over the disbursement of money.

Trump vowed to veto the legislation.

“This is no longer about the president’s wall. This is not about party. This is about protecting the very heart of our American system of governance. Congress – and only Congress — holds the power of the purse,” Udall said. He added, “Deciding how to spend public funds is among [Congress’] most fundamental power and responsibilities under the Constitution.”

Collins made a similar argument and asked, “do we want the executive branch, now or in the future, to hold the power that the founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?”

In addition to Collins, two other Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, have said they would support the resolution.

Murkowski and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen are cosponsors of the bill along with Udall and Collins.

The online news outlet Politico reported Thursday that senators were pressing on Trump to back down.

Senate leadership must bring the bill to a vote according to the National Emergencies Act.

Trump said the declaration was necessary because of the flow of drugs, including opioids, to the United States from Mexico. However, the U.S. government has said most drugs are smuggled through ports of entry.

The Senate effort comes a day after the House passed the resolution of disapproval on a 245-182 vote, with 13 Republicans joining the Democratic majority.

Earlier this month, New Mexico joined 15 other states in a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the national emergency declaration.

Polling has shown the national emergency declaration is unpopular as is the border wall itself. Still, the construction of the wall was a key election promise of Trump in 2016.