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 TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question 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 UdallSenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief 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 Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' 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 HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad 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.