Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump from using military funds to build wall

Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Monday to prevent President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report Jim Jordan: Latest allegation of ignoring sexual misconduct is 'ridiculous' Trump's schedule shows open morning when impeachment hearings begin MORE from using military and disaster relief funds to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall should he declare a national emergency.

The legislation would prevent Trump from using funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works funds and military construction funding "for the construction of barriers, land acquisition, or any other associated activities on the southern border without specific statutory authorization from Congress" if he declared a national emergency.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (D-N.M.) said that while an emergency declaration to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall would be challenged in court, "Congress should not wait for the courts to act."

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"We must stand up and assert our role as a co-equal branch of government, and we must prevent the president from going around Congress to raid critical funds … for a politically-motivated, unjustified national emergency declaration that isn’t based in reality," he said.

Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics This week: House to vote on Turkey sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars MORE (D-N.M.) added that the bill would "prevent funds designated for critical military construction and disaster response" from being used to build the wall in the event Trump declares a national emergency.

Democrats estimate that approximately $35 billion from the fiscal 2018 funding cycle is "subject to raiding"—being repurposed for constructing the border wall — including money for disaster relief and military construction projects.

More than a dozen Democrats, including Udall and Heinrich, introduced the Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations Act. Among the RAIDER Act's supporters are Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa Press: Another billionaire need not apply MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump demands Bidens testify MORE (D-N.J.), who are both running for the party's 2020 nomination.

Trump has kept the option of declaring a national emergency to construct the wall on the table despite pushback from Congress.

He hinted last week that he could tip his hand during Tuesday night's State of the Union address about his plans, telling reporters to "listen closely."

“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. 

If Trump declared a national emergency, Congress could try to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the action. Lawmakers in both parties have also predicted a lengthy court battle that would almost immediately delay action on the border wall.