Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court

Thursday, August 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

Lawmakers may again try to terminate Trump’s declaration allowing him to shift funds for wall construction

Andrew Clevenger
RollCall.com
Aug 15, 2019

Thursday marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border, a notable anniversary because it gives Congress another shot at ending it.

The flashpoint in the debate remains funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a prominent pledge made during Trump’s 2016 presidential bid that now hangs over the 2020 campaign.

Most of the money the president would tap through his Feb. 15 emergency declaration to help build the wall would come from the Pentagon — a fact that has riled both sides of the aisle, though not enough Republicans thus far to force a change in policy.

Under the law authorizing the executive branch’s use of national emergencies, lawmakers can now hold another vote to end the emergency declaration and, Democrats would argue, assert Congress’ power of the purse.

But it’s not clear that Democratic leaders are going to move ahead with another emergency termination vote. Such an effort has already been unsuccessful once, and the politics of the issue don’t appear to have materially shifted since then.

Washington Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he still opposes Trump’s emergency declaration, but he is not sure what the best way to proceed is. A resolution to terminate the emergency would likely pass again, he said, but probably without the votes needed to override a veto.

Such a vote “would accurately reflect the position of Congress,” he said. “The position of Congress is that this authority has been misused, and the funds should not come out of the Department of Defense.”

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