Democrats, groups seek to challenge Trump’s emergency declaration


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Saturday 16 February 2019 (RBB News) – Democrats and rights groups have vowed to fight US President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration along the southern border, saying it is an unconstitutional attempt to fund a wall without approval from Congress.

A key committee in the US House of Representatives announced on Friday it was launching an immediate investigation into Trump’s national emergency declaration, saying the move to fund his promised wall on the US-Mexico border raised constitutional and statutory issues.

In a letter to Trump, Democrats who control the House Judiciary Committee asked the Republican president to make available relevant White House and Justice Department officials.

They also requested legal documents on the decision that led to the declaration, setting a deadline of next Friday.

“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system,” said the letter signed by committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats on the panel.

Trump declared a national emergency on Friday after Congress passed a spending deal to keep the government open that did not include funding for a border wall.

A national emergency, if not blocked by the courts or Congress, would allow Trump to dip into funds politicians had approved for other purposes to build a border wall.

‘We’ll use every remedy available’

But the top two Democrats in Congress said they will use “every remedy available” to oppose Trump’s declaration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday that they will take action “in the Congress, in the courts and in the public”.

They called Trump’s declaration unlawful, adding that it would “shred the Constitution” by usurping Congress’s power to control spending.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced its intention to sue less than an hour after the White House released the text of Trump’s declaration that the “current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”

The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: whether the president can declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’s refusal to give him all the money he wanted; and whether federal law allows the Defense Department to take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction.

The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.