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Republican Senate Majority Plans on Voting on President’s National Emergency Declaration

On Feb. 15, 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico. During a televised statement in the Rose Garden, President Trump said, “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other. It’s an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.” The national emergency declaration enables President Trump to allocate $3.6 billion dollars from military construction projects, $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund in order to fund the border wall construction, according to the New York Times. This national emergency declaration has created immediate criticism from the Democrats, and some Republicans as well. A joint statement from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer said, “This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process.” Critics of the national emergency also question the constitutionality and whether President Trump overstepped his authority as president.

On March 14, the Senate will vote on whether or not to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration over border wall according to CNBC. The Democrat-held House of Representatives already approved a resolution to terminate the president’s national emergency. President Trump’s actions have also split the GOP support for the border wall. CNBC reports that at least four of the GOP senators support the resolution terminating the national emergency. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he believed “everybody in [his] conference is in favor of the president’s position on the wall and on border security,” but not necessarily the steps he took to fund the project.” This comment from the Majority Leader shows the divide between the GOP and President Trump’s agenda. Majority Leader McConnell also noted that President Trump’s action has shifted the Republican party to focus on potential ways to limit the presidential power to declare national emergencies in the future. McConnell confirmed reports that the Republican party aims to amend the National Emergencies Act of 1976. McConnell commented, “We’re looking at some ways to revisit the law… there’s a lot of discomfort with it.” In response to this, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced on March 13 that if the Senate GOP legislation attempts to create a bill that would limit the powers of future presidents, she would not support the legislation.

If the Senate does in fact vote in favor of terminating President Trump’s national emergency then the president would be back to square one since the Congress only allocated $1.4 billion dollars out of the $5.7 billion President Trump was asking for in order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The vote on Thursday, March 14 will decide the fate of President Trump’s national emergency declaration and the funding of his proposed border wall.