Days after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in order to secure the border-wall funding that Congress had decline to provide, stakeholders in border states are expressing their misgivings about the president’s plan — and congressional leaders are threatening to use the powers accorded to them under the National Emergencies Act to terminate the declaration.
In Arizona, newly elected Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) is speaking out against Trump’s emergency declaration, saying it threatens $40 million worth of construction projects on Luke Air Force Base, fifteen miles west of Phoenix. As the Arizona Republic reports, the base is one of Phoenix’s “key economic engines.”
In a statement to the newspaper, Stanton says, “It is reckless and irresponsible to steal money from our military to fund a border wall that isn’t necessary… Luke is one of Arizona’s crown jewels — essential to our national defense and our regional economy — and we must do everything we can to keep it strong.”
These improvements to Luke AFB were among the many projects which Trump said “didn’t sound too important” during his Friday press conference. Overall, Trump plans to divert approximately $3.6 billion from funds the Department of Defense has set aside to furnish improvements on military bases across the country.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, however, has affirmed his support for the president’s plan on Twitter.
Arizona has watched for decades as Washington has failed to prioritize border security. It’s unfortunate it has come to this rather than Congress doing its job. But action is needed. I support President Trump’s plan to secure our border.
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) February 16, 2019
Meanwhile, on this Sunday’s edition of CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) — who after the 2018 midterms was left as the only Republican representative of a Congressional district on the Southern border — spoke out against Trump’s emergency declaration as well, citing the administration’s plan to use eminent domain to seize land from borderland farmers. “In the great state of Texas, we care about a little thing called private property, and there’s going to be over 1,000 ranchers and farmers potentially impacted if the government comes in and takes their land,” he said.
Hurd also expressed dissatisfaction with the National Emergencies Act itself: “Our government was designed for the most ultimate power, the power of the purse, to reside within Congress. And we shouldn’t have an executive — I don’t care if it’s Republican or Democrat — that tries to get around Congress with this national emergency declaration.”
That same law provides Congress with the ability to check the president’s power, should both houses of Congress vote to terminate the declaration. Already, such efforts are underway. On Friday, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) announced that they would be introducing a bill to do just that, possibly this week.
Meanwhile, in an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) sounded optimistic that the Senate might coalesce behind a similar measure: “Frankly, I think there’s enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he’s doing is robbing from the military and the [Department of Defense] to go and build this wall.”
But while both Houses may have the support necessary to get their bills to Trump’s desk, it seems unlikely that either would be able to assemble the votes needed to override a presidential veto. Opponents of the president’s declaration will likely shift their focus to judicial challenges to the emergency order.
On Sunday’s edition of “This Week,” California attorney general Xavier Becerra vowed that the Golden State would be “definitely and imminently” filing such a suit.
Becerra made good on his threat on Monday as California was joined by fifteen other states in filing a lawsuit to block the president’s emergency declaration on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. “You wouldn’t expect to celebrate Presidents’ Day this way, but we do what you got to do,” Becerra told reporters.
The coalition of states involved in the suit, of which all save the state of Maryland have Democratic governors, will seek an injunction to prevent the emergency declaration from going into effect as the case wends it’s way through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Attorneys involved in such cases will almost certainly point to the president’s assessment of his own declaration: “I didn’t need to do this.”
This is a breaking news story and has been updated to reflect new information.