Nancy Pelosi blasts Trump's 'emergency' declaration

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday publicly decried US President Donald Trump's "national emergency" declaration to fund a border wall and began the legislative steps to block it.

UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was preparing on Monday (Feb 25) to push a resolution to block United States President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund the wall at the border with Mexico.

Noting that the Constitution granted Congress, among other powers, the power of the purse, Ms Pelosi said: "The President's power grab usurps that constitutional responsibility and fundamentally violates the balance of power envisioned by our founders."

She added: "To defend our democracy, the House will pass Congressman (Joaquin Castro's) privileged resolution to terminate the emergency declaration."

Mr Trump declared a national emergency on Feb 15 to avert another government shutdown and fund the wall, after Congress denied him the US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) he needed to build it.

White House officials say they have found nearly US$7 billion in funding that can be redirected to the wall, including about US$3.6 billion from the military, under his emergency declaration.

While the vote to block Mr Trump's emergency order is expected to easily pass the Democrat-controlled House on Tuesday, Democrats would need at least four Republicans to "flip" on the Senate side, assuming all the Democrats there and the two independents back it.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said a "handful" of Republicans would likely vote for the resolution.

 
 

Some Republicans have said utilising a national emergency declaration when Congress says "no" sets a bad precedent and poses a danger when the shoe is on the other foot under a Democratic president.

Republican Susan Collins has reportedly said she will vote for a resolution to block Mr Trump's emergency declaration.

Mr Trump issued a warning to Republican Senators in a tweet on Monday: "I hope our great Republican Senators don't get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security.... don't fall into the Democrats "trap" of Open Borders and Crime!"

Even if Democrats manage to get the votes needed to block Mr Trump's declaration, the President has vowed to use his veto power, and Congress would need to muster two-thirds of lawmakers to override a veto.