By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House was expected Tuesday to pass a resolution to revoke President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The legislation would revoke Trump’s executive order declaring an emergency so he could use billions of dollars from the military to pay for the wall.
Once the House votes, it would send the resolution to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would take only a handful of GOP defections to pass.
With three Senate Republicans saying they will support the legislation to revoke the declaration, only one more is needed to vote with all the Democrats to pass the measure and send it to Trump.
Earlier this month, Congress approved a huge spending bill providing nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles (89 kilometers) of border barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, ending a dispute that had led to a record 35-day partial shutdown of the government.
Trump had demanded $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles (322 kilometers).
His declaration of a national emergency gives him access to about $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects to divert to border fencing. The Defense Department has not identified which projects may face the ax.
GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said he would vote to block the order, joining Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski as Republicans supporting the resolution. He said Congress must defend its power of the purse and warned that a future Democratic president might abuse the power to advance “radical policies.”
Trump could still prevail by using his first-ever veto to kill the measure. But the White House is seeking to minimize defections among the president’s GOP allies to avoid embarrassment.
“When you see the vote today there will be nowhere near the votes to override a veto,” said House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.
Even many GOP lawmakers who view themselves as protectors of Congress’s power of the purse say they are deferring to Trump in this case, saying he has the authority under a mid-1970s statute.
“They love Trump in my district,” said Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo. “I’m for Trump.”
Democratic leaders say the vote is not about the merits of Trump’s wall but how the president is trampling the Constitution by grabbing money that he can’t obtain through normal means.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s action “steals billions of dollars” from the military construction projects— including possibly family housing and child care centers—to build the wall with Mexico.
Republicans counter that problems with drug runners and human trafficking give merit to Trump’s maneuver.
“I went down there neutral on this question. Didn’t know whether or not I’d support a national emergency,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who recently returned from a National Guard deployment along the border in Arizona. “And I came back more convinced than probably anybody that this is the right thing to do.”
But at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, a top U.S. general said in response to questions from senators that he does not see a military threat on the southern border with Mexico.
Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said he is focused on the “very real” threats from China and Russia in the north. But he added that proposed barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border could increase security against any potential threats.
Democratic senators at the hearing questioned the validity of a national emergency declaration.