Senate

Pelosi, Schumer hammer 'unlawful' emergency declaration

The top Democrats on Capitol Hill wasted little time Friday bashing President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border, portraying the move as "unlawful" and vowing to take quick action to block it.

Asserting that there is no security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that Trump's maneuver tramples the Constitution's clear-cut separation of powers while threatening to drain funds from programs more vital to public safety and national security.

"The President's unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation," Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.

"This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process."

Moments earlier, speaking from the White House Rose Garden, Trump had declared a national emergency at the border in order to sidestep Congress and liberate funds from other programs to launch new construction of the long-promised wall that was central to his 2016 campaign.

"It's a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people," Trump said.

The move was highly expected. Just a day earlier, the president had announced that he would reluctantly sign an enormous spending bill to avert a second government shutdown - a package that excluded the billions of dollars he had requested for the wall - but would compensate the difference by declaring a national emergency, thereby charging ahead with the wall construction without explicit approval from Congress.

The strategy has been widely panned by lawmakers of both parties, as even many of Trump's Republican supporters have framed the move as an act of executive overreach - a common GOP criticism of the Obama administration.

Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wary of Republicans suffering the political fallout of another shutdown, vowed to support the emergency declaration in order to get Trump's signature on the spending package.

The Democratic leaders minced no words in proclaiming the pronouncement unconstitutional. They're eyeing resolutions to block the declaration legislatively, as well as possible legal challenges that could tie Trump's hands for months.

"The President's actions clearly violate the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," Pelosi and Schumer said.

"The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."

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