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Democrats: Trump's national emergency violates the Constitution

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

This post has been updated.

President Trump declared a national emergency to build a border wall after a bill to avoid another government shutdown provided only $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion the president initially demanded for a wall.

Democratic lawmakers issued strong rebukes in response to Trump’s action. In a joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-C.A.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated that the president’s move “does great violence to the Constitution”:

“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

Trump claimed the national emergency is a result of “an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency to free up federal funding to build a wall along the southern border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As a result of the national emergency, Trump will use $3.6 billion from military construction projects budget, $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs, and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund, according to the New York Times.

“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said of the emergency declaration. “I just want to get it done faster, that’s all."

Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) previously told Yahoo Finance “there’s no question” that the president declaring a national emergency in this instance would be brought to court, calling it “a violation of the Constitution.”

ABC News reported that the Justice Department “warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president's plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and First Lady Melania Trump listen during a meeting with Ivan Duque, Colombia's president, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Feb. 13, 2019. (Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Bloomberg)

“The power of the appropriations of dollars vests in the hands of the U.S. Congress, not the executive branch,” Meeks told The Final Round on Thursday. “That’s the check and balance that the Founding Fathers put in the Constitution. We should not allow, and we will not allow, this president to try to violate the Constitution to try to maintain a campaign promise he made that does not make any sense and does not keep us protected.”

Trump had hinted at declaring a national emergency after the initial government shutdown, citing “tremendous obstruction by Democrats.” McConnell initially warned the president against such a move.

The National Emergencies Act of 1976 dictates that for Trump to legally declare a national emergency, he must couple it with a separate law that authorizes funds for emergency use. White House Press Secretary stated that the executive action is “to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Much of Trump’s 2016 campaign hedged on his promise to build a wall and ensure border security, arguing that the illegal flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico amounted to a “crisis.” Meeks disagrees these conidtions amount to a national emergency, stating that the crisis “was made up” by Trump.

Rep. Meeks disapproves of Trump's national emergency declaration. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“He’s now trying to attempt a campaign promise that he even lied about, because he said Mexico was going to pay for his wall,” Meeks said. “He’s not getting his wall, and we’re not going to allow him to avert the Constitution of the United States of America and to go around what is within the jurisdiction of the United States Congress.”

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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