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Democrats plan resolution against Trump emergency

Friday, February 22, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, USA (AP) — House Democrats will file a resolution Friday, aimed at blocking the national emergency declaration that President Donald Trump has issued to help finance his wall along the Southwest border, teeing up a clash over billions of dollars, immigration policy and the Constitution's separation of powers.

Though the effort seems almost certain to ultimately fall short — perhaps to a Trump veto — the votes will let Democrats take a defiant stance against Trump that is sure to please liberal voters. They will also put some Republicans from swing districts and states in a difficult spot.

Formally introducing the measure sets up a vote by the full House likely by mid-March, perhaps as soon as next week, because of a timeline spelled out by law. Initial passage by the Democratic-run House seems assured.

The measure would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where there may be enough GOP defections for approval. The law that spells out the rules for emergency declarations seems to require the Senate to address the issue too, but there's never been a congressional effort to block one and some procedural uncertainties remain.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, seemed to predict approval, telling colleagues in a letter that her chamber will “move swiftly” to pass it and “the resolution will be referred to the Senate and then sent to the president's desk.”

Should the House and Senate initially approve the measure, Congress seems unlikely to muster the two-thirds majorities in each chamber that would be needed later to override a certain Trump veto.

Even so, Republican senators facing tough 2020 re-election fights in competitive states like Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina would have to take stances that could risk dividing the GOP's pro-Trump and more moderate voters.

Moderate Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday she would back a resolution blocking the declaration, making her the first Republican to publicly state her support for the effort to thwart the emergency. With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority, three more GOP senators would need to vote with Democrats for the resolution to win initial approval.

The votes could also cause discomfort for other Republicans who've opposed the declaration. Many have expressed concerns that Trump's declaration sets a precedent for future Democratic presidents to declare emergencies to help their own favoured issues, like global warming or gun control.

The battle is over an emergency declaration Trump has issued to access billions of dollars beyond what Congress has authorised to start erecting border barriers. Building the wall was the most visible trademark of his presidential campaign.

Congress approved a vast spending bill last week providing nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of border barriers in Texas' Rio Grande Valley while preventing a renewed government shutdown. That measure represented a rejection of Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles.


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