House Democrats formally challenged President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration Friday, setting up dramatic votes in Congress on whether to rein in the president’s flex of executive power, according to the Associated Press.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, had prepared the measure to block Trump’s action, which he took last week to divert money to build his proposed border wall. Democrats have called the president’s move a power grab sparked by lawmakers denying him the funding he wanted to construct barriers between the U.S. and Mexico.
The Democratic-held House will “move swiftly to pass this bill,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Democratic lawmakers on Thursday. It appears to have the support needed to get through the House. On Thursday, Castro said “we have 222 cosponsors to terminate” the declaration, more than the 218 needed for a bill to pass.
The challenge for Democrats starts when the proposal goes to the GOP-held Senate. Several Republicans have showed concerns about the precedent set by Trump’s declaration. The resolution will put pressure on them to choose between acting on professed worries about expanded executive power, or backing a president with strong support among GOP voters.
At least one GOP senator — Susan Collins of Maine — will vote for a resolution to block the emergency declaration. To reach the majority needed for the measure to clear the Senate, the 47 Democrats in the chamber would then need only three more Republicans to join them. That could easily happen.
However, Trump has pledged to veto the legislation if it comes to his desk. The measure would then need veto-proof, two-thirds majorities of 290 and 67 votes in the House and Senate, respectively. Garnering that much support would prove much tougher, considering both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have pledged to support Trump’s declaration.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.