Under National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress can vote every six months to terminate the declaration
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced a bipartisan resolution to force a vote to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration and uphold the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
On February 15, 2019, the president declared a national emergency at the southern border, in order to divert funding already appropriated for military construction and other projects toward a border wall—despite the fact that Congress alone holds the “power of the purse,” to appropriate taxpayer funds. The Department of Defense has since announced that it will divert $3.6 billion in funding from 127 congressionally-appropriated military projects to the Department of Homeland Security to fund the border wall.
In March, the Senate voted in bipartisan fashion to terminate the president’s emergency declaration, by a vote of 59-41. The U.S. House of Representatives also approved the resolution. However, the president vetoed the resolution. Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress can vote every six months to terminate the declaration.
The joint resolution introduced by the Senators would terminate the national emergency declaration and uphold the separation of powers, halting further transfers of congressionally-approved funding away from military construction projects.
“Let me be clear: The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the President. Rather, it is: Do we want the Executive Branch—now or in the future—to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress? I strongly support protecting the institutional prerogatives of the Senate, and the system of checks and balances that is central to the structure of our government. Each of these deferred military construction projects was recommended by the President in his budget request, and funding for them was passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President, just as our system was intended to work,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan Resolution blocks this overreach, and nothing more, and I urge our colleagues to support it.”
“New Mexico just lost $125 million in military construction funding and millions more could be at risk if this so-called emergency goes on unchecked. We must continue to stand up in a bipartisan way to block the president from circumventing Congress and stepping on the separation of powers, or else a new and dangerous precedent will be set,” Senator Udall said. “Emergency declarations are for true national emergencies—not for going around Congress to get funding that Congress rejected as part of the regular budget process. Along with many New Mexicans, I believe the border wall is an ineffective and offensive vanity project that wastes taxpayer dollars. But stopping any administration from taking away Congressionally-appropriated funds – designated for critical military projects in our states – for political purposes should be something that we can all agree on, regardless of where you stand on the border wall.”
“It’s imperative that Congress protect funding that has been set aside for our troops, their families, military bases and efforts to counter our adversaries. These are not slush funds,” said Senator Shaheen. “I appreciate that the Department of Defense made the right call and heeded my concerns about taking funding from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, however, Congress needs to take a stand and protect military funding going forward. I am very pleased that there’s bipartisan support for this resolution to defend the Constitution, and I strongly encourage other members of Congress to join us in this effort.”
In February, Senators Collins and Udall delivered remarks on the Senate floor, urging their colleagues to support this bipartisan joint resolution to terminate the president’s national emergency declaration and uphold the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.