GOP lawmaker says it's 'hypocritical' for Pelosi not to overhaul national emergencies

GOP lawmaker says it's 'hypocritical' for Pelosi not to overhaul national emergencies
© Greg Nash

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday blasted Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' Pelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill MORE’s (D-Calif.) vow not to take up legislation that would curtail the president’s power on future national emergency declarations.

“I think it's kind of hypocritical on her part to be bellyaching about the use of national emergency provisions of the statutes that Congress delegates to the president, say it's not an emergency and also that he is abusing his powers and has no constitutional authority,” Biggs told The Hill. “And we have a bill that prospectively says, you know we're going to limit that — it just doesn't make sense to me.”

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The bill, introduced by Biggs in the House on Wednesday as a companion to a Senate bill, would amend the National Emergencies Act to include language that would terminate a president’s declaration of emergency after 30 days unless Congress passes a joint resolution affirming the declaration.

The legislation comes as the Senate is considering a resolution of disapproval to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE's emergency declaration at the border to obtain funding for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House already passed the resolution.

Pelosi said Wednesday that the House would not take up the bill to overhaul national emergencies. Critics of the measure argue it is solely being introduced to provide cover for Republicans who don’t agree with the emergency declaration but are hesitant to buck the president.

"Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the president to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover," Pelosi said in a statement. "The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass."

But Biggs argued Democrats who were vocal in their disapproval of Trump’s decision should be willing to embrace legislation that would rein in his power to circumvent Congress in the future.

Biggs asserted he remains supportive of the president’s decision to use the mechanism to build the wall, adding that he believes “it is an emergency on the border.”

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Senators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Utah) spearheaded the efforts on the bill in the upper chamber, which has garnered the support of more than a dozen GOP senators.

“If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame. Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back. If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so," Lee said in a statement following the bill’s introduction.