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Democrats aim to box in GOP ahead of emergency declaration vote

Top congressional Democrats are trying to increase pressure on Republicans ahead of Thursday's vote on a resolution voicing disapproval of President Trump's emergency declaration to fund a border wall, warning that a floated deal to avoid a showdown won't pass.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Republicans from the Senate floor on Wednesday, calling talks of passing legislation that would rein in future emergency declarations a "fig leaf" and "bunk."

"If you believe the president is doing the wrong thing, if you believe there shouldn't be an emergency, you don't say, 'well, in the Congress we'll introduce future legislation to change it,'" Schumer said.

"Come on, this fig leaf is so easily seen through, so easily blown aside that it leaves the constitutional pretensions of my Republican colleagues naked," he added.

Schumer's comments came shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would not pass legislation from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would require Congress to approve future emergency declarations after 30 days or they would be terminated.

"The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass," she said.

Republican senators are trying to reach a deal with the White House on changes to the National Emergencies Act, the law that Trump used to declare his national emergency.

GOP leadership thinks Trump signing on to an agreement could help minimize the number of senators who vote for the resolution of disapproval the Senate will vote on Thursday to block Trump's emergency declaration, possibly killing the measure.

Schumer urged his GOP colleagues to "stand strong" amid intense lobbying from the White House to vote against the resolution of disapproval.

"This will not pass. To my friend, the senator from Utah, who I know does have constitutional qualms, so he's squirming: His legislation will not pass. ... Do you hear me,  my colleagues, my Republican colleagues? This won't pass. ... [The] fig leaf makes a mockery of the whole constitution and the whole process," Schumer said.

Democrats need four Republicans to vote with them on Thursday to block Trump's emergency declaration, sparking a veto fight with the White House.

So far, four Republicans have said they will vote for the House-passed resolution. But Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), one of the four, said Tuesday that a deal with Trump on changes to the National Emergencies Act would change how he votes on the resolution of disapproval.

Roughly a dozen additional GOP senators remain publicly on the fence on the resolution, giving the White House an uphill climb if it wants to block the resolution nixing Trump's emergency declaration.

Schumer added that Thursday's vote would be a "true test" for Republicans, and asked if they were taking a "loyalty pledge" to Trump despite their public concerns about his emergency declaration.

"Do you believe in the Constitution and conservative principles? All these self-proclaimed conservatives," Schumer said. "Do they stand for any principles at all, or do they just take a loyalty pledge to President Trump and meekly do whatever he wants?"

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