- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the House will vote Tuesday to overturn President Trump’s border emergency declaration, and vowed there are enough votes to clear her chamber.

Democrats officially announced the legislation in a conference call, saying they already have nearly 230 co-sponsors, which signals more than enough support to gain a majority and clear the House. Whether it could clear the Senate, and survive a presidential veto, remains unclear.

Mrs. Pelosi said they are working to get Republicans on board, saying they’re appealing to GOP members’ “patriotism.”

“It’s out of a respect for their respect for the Constitution that we invite them to join,” she said.

The resolution’s chief sponsor is Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, who said he began working on the legislation six months ago when talk of an emergency declaration heated up.

Mr. Trump had pushed Congress to approve $5.7 billion in wall construction money, but lawmakers instead gave him $1.375 billion.

The president signed that legislation, but also triggered several sections of law — including the National Emergencies Act — to identify $6.7 billion more money already in the budget he says he can redirect toward wall construction.

A handful of lawsuits have already been filed by environmental groups and a coalition of Democratic states, and Mrs. Pelosi said it’s possible Congress joins the legal fights as well.

But Congress has its own powers.

Under the Emergencies Act, Capitol Hill has the chance to pass a resolution of disapproval, which would effectively cancel a presidential emergency.

Mr. Trump would almost certainly veto it, and Congress would then have to muster two-thirds majorities in each chamber to override him. House Republicans’ leader has said there are enough Republicans to sustain the president.

Mrs. Pelosi also seemed to undercut at least part of the legal argument against the president’s actions Friday when she said Mr. Trump would have powers to move money around — if there was an actual wall emergency.

She said the problem with this declaration is that it’s a sham emergency.

Yet most legal scholars say courts are unlikely to peer too deeply into a president’s emergency declaration, figuring that’s a political question best left to him and Congress. The bigger question is whether Congress can, in theory, grant a president emergency powers to move around money at his whim — and there Mrs. Pelosi said Congress has done just that.

“Does the president have the right to do such a thing when there is a true emergency? Yes he does,” she said.

Still, Democrats are casting the vote as a major constitutional showdown that will test where Republicans come down.

“This is about upholding the oath of office that we take to protect and defend the Constitution,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Republicans counter that was not the case when President Obama, after saying he didn’t have the power to unilaterally protect illegal immigrants, reversed himself and in 2012 announced the DACA program to impose a deportation amnesty for illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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