The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with 13 Republicans joining the majority Democrats to try and block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.
The resolution, which passed 245 to 182 on Tuesday night, must now be taken up by the Senate, where three Republicans — Maine’s Susan Collins, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — have already declared their support, only one short of the number needed for Congress to ratify a stinging rebuke of Trump’s efforts, reports The New York Times.
“Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is it to the Constitution of the US?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her Republican colleagues in a speech on the floor ahead of the vote.
“You cannot let him undermine your pledge to the Constitution.”
The resolution of disapproval, under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, serves as the easiest mechanism for Congress to end Trump’s declaration.
Pelosi also listed a number of instances in which House Republicans had objected to former President Barack Obama’s use of executive power, vowing that “we are not going to give any President, Democratic or Republican, a blank check to shred the Constitution of the US”.
Trump issued the emergency declaration February 15, as part of a deal to keep the government open after a 35-day partial shutdown, The Washington Post reported.
The President agreed to sign a spending bill that keeps the government funded through September 30 and provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the border in Texas, but he said he needed billions more.
The administration plans to redirect an additional $6.7 billion from several sources, including $3.6 billion from military construction projects that can be accessed via the emergency declaration.
Following the vote, the White House issued a formal veto threat that said: “The current situation at the Southern Border presents a humanitarian and security crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”
Tuesday’s development comes after 16 US states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia — on February 18 filed a lawsuit challenging the national emergency declaration.
Civil society groups including the Centre for Biological Diversity, Border Network for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union have also announced lawsuits.