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House Passes Resolution Against Trump's 'National Emergency' to Fund Border Wall That Endangers 90+ Species
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday to overturn President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund the construction of a border wall that would put 93 endangered species at risk. Trump issued the declaration to secure around $8 billion in funding for the wall after a bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress Feb. 15 allocated only $1.375 billion to border security. Trump had originally requested $5.7 billion for the wall during a stand-off with Congress that resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
The resolution against the national emergency passed the House 245 to 182, with 13 Republicans breaking ranks to join with Democrats to pass the measure, CNN reported.
"Today, the House showed Donald Trump that Americans will not sit idly by as he steals taxpayer money, claims our country is in a non-existent emergency, and manufactures a humanitarian crisis on the border. All of these actions are the Trump administration's efforts to advance a twisted, racist, and cruel agenda built on inhumane deportations and a divisive, environmentally destructive, congressionally rejected border wall," Sierra Club federal policy director Melinda Pierce said in a statement.
The fight over the national emergency now moves to the Senate, where the passage of a resolution blocking it is less certain. Four Republican senators would need to vote with every Democratic senator to pass the resolution. So far, three Republicans have indicated they will support the measure: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Tillis wrote a Washington Post op-ed Monday announcing his decision, in which he said he supported Trump's desire to increase border security, but was worried about the precedent he was setting. Part of what concerned him was whether a future Democratic president would declare a national emergency to pursue sweeping action on climate change.
"[Conservatives] should be thinking about whether they would accept the prospect of a President Bernie Sanders declaring a national emergency to implement parts of the radical Green New Deal," he wrote.
Environmental groups have been at the forefront of the fight against the border wall and the emergency declaration. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) tweeted urging followers to call their senators and encourage them to vote for the resolution against the declaration.
CBD has also joined with Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund to sue the Trump administration, arguing its use of an emergency declaration to divert funds for wall construction was not legal, as The Hill reported Feb. 18.
"Separation of powers is at the heart of our democracy and the power of the purse is a critical check on the president. Trump's authoritarian attempt to build his destructive border wall is a flagrant abuse of that constitutional structure. If he gets his way, it'll be a disaster for communities and wildlife along the border, including some of our country's most endangered species," CBD senior attorney Brian Segee said in a statement reported by The Hill.
It is likely the issue will ultimately be decided in the courts, BBC News reported. That is because, even if the Senate passes the resolution, Trump has promised to veto it. At that point, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would be required to override the veto.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would vote on the resolution before its next recess the week of March 18, CNN reported.
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