President Donald Trump is showcasing a section of border wall that separates the United States and Mexico. (April 5)
WASHINGTON – The Democratic-led House of Representatives filed a federal lawsuit on Friday aiming to prevent President Donald Trump from going around Congress to fund his wall along the southern border.
The lawsuit argues Trump overstepped his constitutional powers when he authorized spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border by taking cash from other agencies. The complaint, filed against the Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, Interior departments and each department’s leader, is the latest in a line of similar lawsuits aimed at halting Trump’s emergency declaration, which came in the aftermath of the longest ever government shutdown due to an impasse over the cash.
“Today, the House is taking action once more to uphold the Constitution from the President’s brazen assault, and to defend our Democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
The president had requested about $5.7 billion from Congress to fund for his border wall, which led to a bitter fight with Congressional Democrats and a 35-day government shutdown. In the aftermath of the shutdown, Trump declared a national emergency and authorized his administration to dip into budgets for other agencies, including the Department of Defense, to fund the project.
The national emergency and other measures freed up $8 billion – far more than the $5.7 billion he initially demanded – to fund 234 miles of bollard wall.
Congress approved just under $1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer another $6.7 billion to wall construction.
Democrats say Trump’s attempt to transfer billions of dollars from several programs to wall construction violates the Constitution, which gives Congress control over spending. The 45-page complaint was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
President Donald Trump has issued the first veto of his presidency, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding. (March 15)
“Absent any applicable Congressional appropriation, the expenditure of up to $8.1 billion to construct a border wall – and the transfer of appropriated funds from other sources to pay for the wall – violates the Appropriations Clause and the constitutional separation of powers,” the lawsuit states. “The United States House of Representatives brings this civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief to halt the defendants’ unconstitutional actions, which usurp the House’s Article I legislative powers.”
Attorneys general from 20 states, plus environmental and progressive groups, have filed similar lawsuits aimed at blocking the transfers.
The lawsuit was filed the same day as Trump visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, where he toured an area of the border where a 30-foot segment of replacement border fencing was installed last year, the first such project in Trump’s presidency. A plaque welded to the bollard-style fencing refers to the 2.25-mile-long barrier as “the first section of President Trump’s border wall.”
Last month, the House and Senate voted to block Trump’s national emergency declaration, a vote that gained support from more than a dozen Senate Republicans—a major rebuke of the president.
After the votes, the president vetoed the measure. The House failed to gain a two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto — leaving the battle to be decided by the courts.
Contributing: John Fritze, Deborah Barfield Berry, Eliza Collins and the Associated Press
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