The good news for President Donald Trump continued on Tuesday as the House of Representatives failed to override his first veto, which he issued in response to Democrats’ efforts to block his southern border emergency declaration.
The Hill reported the vote to override the president was 248 to 181, falling short of the two-thirds majority required (287).
The vote was mostly along party lines, but 14 GOP lawmakers sided with the Democrats in seeking to thwart the president’s declaration.
Republican critics who voted to override contended that Trump was overstepping his constitutional authority by reprogramming funds beyond what the Congress voted to appropriate for border barrier construction.
“We all agree with the need for border security so I want to be clear on that, but we need to separate out the need for border security with how we get there and there are constitutional concerns here,” GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania told CNN ahead of the vote Tuesday, according to The Hill.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York described Trump’s move as “unlawful.”
“I’m convinced that the president’s actions are unlawful and deeply irresponsible,” he said on the House floor.
“A core foundation of our system of government and of democracies across the world going back hundreds of years is that the executive cannot unilaterally spend taxpayer money without the legislature’s consent.”
Besides the $1.375 billion Congress voted to authorize for barrier funding in February, the White House plans to redirect $3.6 billion from a military construction fund, $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense drug interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department from a drug forfeiture fund.
The national emergency is specifically being used to tap the $3.6 billion from the military construction fund.
On Monday night, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced that he had authorized the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to spend up to $1 billion to support Trump’s request “to build 57 miles of 18-foot-high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border,” Military Times reported.
Trump’s emergency declaration is also facing a challenge in the courts.
Last month, 16 states filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California (part of the 9th Circuit) to block Trump’s emergency declaration, just as he predicted would happen the day he announced his decision.
Trump expressed confidence at the time that his administration will prevail in the courts, just as it did regarding his travel ban from certain countries.
President Trump: “We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court…” pic.twitter.com/pYvliSM14b
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 15, 2019
“We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake, and we’ll win in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Trump has cited the flow of illegal drugs, gang-related criminal activity and the surging numbers of migrants seeking to cross into the U.S. illegally as justifications for declaring an emergency at the southern border.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently stated her department is on track to interdict 100,000 migrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico in March.
“The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis to a national emergency to a near-systemwide meltdown,” she said last week at Auburn University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
“I say this with the utmost sincerity and urgency: The system is breaking.”
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