WASHINGTON — The House passed a resolution to block President Donald Trump from declaring a national emergency as a means to build a barrier along the southern border.
The resolution passed 245-182, with 13 Republicans joining with Democrats. It will next go to the Senate, which has just over two weeks to bring it to the floor.
Although Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, there’s a strong chance that enough GOP members will vote with Democrats to pass it. But the measure would still need to garner a 2/3 majority to override a presidential veto.
After he was unable to secure congressional authorization to fund the wall, Trump announced on Feb. 15 that he would declare a national emergency, describing an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Democrats quickly moved to challenge the declaration. More than a dozen states, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, are suing to stop it, and the resolution was brought to the floor soon after the President’s Day recess.
“There is no crisis at the border,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters earlier on Tuesday. He said Trump’s action was “manufactured and manipulative,” citing statistics showing declines in those apprehended crossing the border illegally and arrested for drug smuggling.
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“President Donald Trump has more stories than Harry Potter and all of them are make believe,” Jeffries said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democratic presidents could declare emergencies as well, on issues like gun control. “So the precedent that the President is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans,” she said earlier this month.
For some GOP members, that is the case. On Monday, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) wrote in the Washington Post on Monday that “Republicans need to realize that this will lead inevitably to regret when a Democrat once again controls the White House, cites the precedent set by Trump, and declares his or her own national emergency to advance a policy that couldn’t gain congressional approval.”
Still, House Republican leadership told reporters that they backed the President on the declaration.
“The President has the authority to do it,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).