WASHINGTON — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) declared she would “most definitely” lead a legal challenge if President Trump decides to bypass Congress and declare a national emergency to get money he’s requested for a border wall.
Wasserman Schultz leads the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; Trump would be dipping into military construction funds if he went the emergency route.
“I don’t like to take things off the table. It’s that alternative. It’s national emergency, it’s other things and, you know, there have been plenty national emergencies called,” Trump told CBS in an interview aired Sunday. “You need a wall. And anybody that says you don’t, they’re just playing games.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was trying to whip reluctant Republicans on the Hill into supporting a bypass of Congress, saying, “To every Republican, if you don’t stand behind this president, we’re not going to stand behind you, when it comes to the wall.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters today that Trump is keeping the national emergency as an option because “the Congress has failed to do its job,” but “at the same time this president is going to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution and call for more comity.”
Wasserman Schultz said that “there’s not a national emergency that would meet the test that would allow for the president to make such a declaration in this case,” because “if you look at border crossings and apprehensions at the border, we have border crossings that are about a fifth of where they were going back to 2000.”
“We have the lowest amount of apprehensions that we have had in four decades. So the president is just not telling the truth when it comes to there being a case to be made for a national emergency to be declared,” she said. “And then what also is important is that the president doesn’t have the power of the purse. He can’t just decide that he doesn’t like the way Congress has appropriated the funds in an appropriations act that has been signed into law. So because we are not doing what he wants, he thinks he can just declare a national emergency and take the money from military construction projects that are already under funded.”
The former DNC chairwoman added that “we have billions of dollars in back log, in projects that need to be have money spent on them to make sure that we have the most pristine, best-funded, top-notched military facilities in the world.”
“And the president would deprive and starve the members of our military if he takes this act. And it would be unconstitutional and mired in court. That can be taken to the bank.”
Wasserman Schultz said such a move would be challenged in court because it’s “not legal, not in compliance with the National Emergency Act that he would be attempting to utilize, and there’s certainly not a national emergency.”
“These are more actions of a dictator,” she said. “The president, on the one hand, has been declaring his opposition to the actions of a dictator in Venezuela at the same time that he is suggesting that he would act like one here in the United States.”