Trump wins wall battle as House fails to override veto

Brittany Mendoza
March 27, 2019

It is rare for Congress to successfully override a presidential veto, something that happened only once during the Obama administration, and Tuesday's outcome was expected.

But the emergency declaration is not exactly settled, as it still faces a host of lawsuits , including one from a coalition of almost two-dozen states led by California.

Trump's emergency declaration drew unanimous opposition from congressional Democrats and opposition from some Republicans, especially in the Senate, where lawmakers objected that he was abusing presidential powers.

Opponents of Trump's emergency warned that besides usurping Congress's role in making spending decisions, he was inviting future Democratic presidents to circumvent politicians by declaring emergencies to finance their own favoured initiatives.

In a symbolic move by Democrats, presiding over the debate and vote was freshman Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, representing a district surrounding El Paso along the Mexican border.

Republicans said Trump was merely following a 1976 law that gives presidents emergency powers, and was trying to head off Democrats with little concern about border security.

House Democratic leaders were under no illusion that the veto override would pass. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that the point of the vote is to make it clear the new Democratic-controlled House won't tolerate the President's persistence for a border wall. "The president is using the authority Congress has given him", said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.).

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The House easily passed the resolution of disapproval in February.

Indeed, earlier Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee sought to deny the Pentagon the authority to reprogramme funds for the wall, an action that could potentially set up another courtroom battle. But Democratic Representative Adam Smith, the Armed Services Committee's chairman, said Tuesday the panel did not approve the proposed use of Pentagon funds.

"President Trump can't take taxpayer dollars to build his wall without Congress's permission", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former congressman who has filed a lawsuit to block Trump's declaration, said following the vote.

The president then declared the emergency, vowing to divert funds from other accounts for the wall.

Congress initially voted to provide less than $1.4bn for barrier construction, which fell short of the funding Trump had asked for.

In his 2018 memo to Rosenstein, Barr argued that a president can not obstruct justice as long as he legitimately exercises his constitutional powers.

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