Dems seek House panel’s support to block military funds for Trump border wall

The Hill 1/16/19

A group of House Democrats is pushing a key Democratic chairman to back their efforts to block President Trump using military funds to build his proposed border wall.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and other Democrats have signed onto a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) seeking his support for the effort.

The letter states that Trump should be prevented from “utilizing military resources for the construction of a wasteful and senseless border wall by declaring a national emergency.”

The letter currently has 36 signatures and the group is calling for more colleagues to sign.

Trump has indicated he may declare a national emergency in order to direct military funds for construction of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats have eyed filing a lawsuit if Trump declared such an emergency, but it’s unclear what move the Armed Services panel could take to preempt him from carrying out such a plan.

Smith said this month that Trump has the authority to declare an emergency, while arguing that it would be a “terrible” decision and he would face legal challenges.

“This would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars,” Smith said earlier this month on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The president spends most of his time talking about how we’re not spending enough on national security. Now he wants to take $20 billion out of the defense budget to build a wall, which by the way is not going to improve our border security.”

The chairman said Trump’s insistence on building a wall and his talk of an immigration crisis at the southern border is “rooted in xenophobia and racism.”

The federal government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22 as Democrats and Trump remain in a stalemate over the president’s demand for more than $5 billion for a border wall.

Democrats who signed the letter to Smith said if Trump declared an emergency to build a wall, it would be a “dangerous and unprecedented move and an abuse of executive power.” 

Trump declaring an emergency to build the wall would essentially allow the government to reopen, as Senate Republicans have so far refused to bring up House-passed funding bills because they didn’t include wall funding.

Congress and the White House have since made little if any progress to end the record-setting 26-day shutdown – which keeps roughly 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are wary, however, in using military funds to build Trump’s wall.

“We ask as you form your committee and begin initial consideration of the …

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