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 TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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 UdallTrump seeks to expand electoral map with New Mexico rally Trump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities 'unprecedented' | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year 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 HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador 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 HarrisCalifornia poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations Poll: Biden holds five-point lead over Warren among New York Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Poll: 33 percent of voters undecided on who won third Democratic debate Jon Bon Jovi: Booker would 'do an amazing job' as president 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.