Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Democratic 2020 candidates slam Trump's national emergency plan: 'Closer to a dictatorship'

Lawmakers submit bipartisan bill to avoid second shutdown Republican reduced to praying on the Senate floor that Trump ‘will have the wisdom’ to keep the government open
Anna Jefferson | 15 February, 2019, 06:08

The House planned to vote on passage in the evening.

Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University contends that the goal of emergency powers is to allow the President to address situations that require a faster response than Congress can muster.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in brief remarks after the White House announcement warned that a future Democratic president could use the precedent of declaring a national emergency for other purposes, such as gun control, citing the anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting that left 17 dead. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities".

His authority to do so will nearly certainly be challenged in court.

When Mr Trump warned that he might declare a national emergency over his wall earlier this year, some Republicans argued it would set a unsafe precedent.

At least one Republican negotiator, Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., refused to sign the report on the agreement and signal his support for the deal.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who was presiding over the opening of the Senate, added his own prayer at the end of a prayer by the guest chaplain. Trump has said he would shift the money from "far less important" government programs, with many speculating it will be through the Department of Defense.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump will declare the national emergency when he signs the spending package, which is expected to be Friday given that's the final day to prevent the government from shutting down again. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has said that declaring a national emergency could mean that construction of the wall would get bogged down in the courts. "And I've indicated to him that I'm going to support the national emergency declaration", McConnell said on the Senate floor. Pelosi said there was no crisis at the border with Mexico that requires a national emergency order.

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Earlier this year some Republicans argued that declaring an emergency for funding would only set a unsafe precedent for the president. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Lindsey Graham, a onetime Trump critic-turned-loyal ally, told reporters Trump was "certainly inclined to sign it" and "march toward filling in gaps" by using executive action to divert other budget funds into wall-building. He might declare a national emergency, which has drawn opposition from both parties, or invoke other authorities to tap funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts. Trump's frustration with that figure is why he has chose to declare a national emergency to give himself the flexibility to divert other funds for construction of a barrier. "It's a humanitarian challenge to us", Pelosi said.

Notably, the word "wall", the heart of many a chant at Trump campaign events and his rallies as president, is absent from the compromise's 1,768-page legislative and descriptive language.

A long legal fight could stretch into Trump's 2020 re-election bid, and embolden critics who already accuse him of authoritarian tendencies and unpredictable swerves in policy-making.

The pact would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to gradually detain fewer immigrants. Democrats say this will give them a chance later this year to add protections for transgender people to that law.

But the new deal is set to open a fresh round of political battles and potential legal challenges with the Democrats over the national emergency declaration.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., pointed to new spending on humanitarian aid at the border and increased border technology as victories in the bill.

Mr. Trump has been demanding US$5.7-billion for the wall from Congress since December as part of a larger government spending bill.

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