The House claims that Trump’s abusing his powers to circumvent Congress and the Constitution.
The House of Representatives, now dominated by Democrats, is suing the Trump administration over the president’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to secure funds for a long-promised border wall.
The lawsuit, writes USA Today, claims that Trump overstepped his own authority.
To fund an enhanced barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump plans to divert money that had already been earmarked for other projects. The representatives say the president is asking for more than Congress had approved in its most recent budget, making room for a border wall by stripping other agencies of much-needed funds.
The complaint names the departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense and Interior as defendants.
The lawsuit, notes Fox News, was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Friday. Along with attacking Trump’s motives, it accuses his administration of “[flouting] the fundamental separation-of-powers principles” and “[usurping] for itself legislative powers specifically vested by the Constitution in Congress.”
“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 (D-CA) said in a Friday statement.
Trump’s declaration of emergency, all told, necessitates the transfer of about $8 billion from Congress to the White House. Much of the money would be pulled from the Pentagon and Department of Defense.
It follows the president’s repeated end-of-year demands that Congress authorize billions for a border wall. The ensuing stalemate led to the federal government entering an unprecedented 35-day shutdown.
Trump’s critics view the emergency as a transparent power-grab, with the president using his executive powers to secure funds Congress refused to give.
“The President’s sham emergency declaration and unlawful transfers of funds have undermined our democracy, contravening the vote of the bipartisan Congress, the will of the American people and the letter of the Constitution,” Pelosi alleged.
Democrats, notes USA Today, repeatedly cited the Constitution as the basis of their lawsuit. Liberal lawmakers contend that Congress is allowed almost-total control over spending.
“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 claims. “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.”
The lawsuit was filed last week, on the same day President Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border to view replacement barriers and fencing.
The attorneys general from 20 states, along with nonprofit advocacy organizations, have filed similar lawsuits against the administration and its emergency maneuvering.