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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned if President Donald Trump declares a national emergency to obtain further funding for border barrier construction, it would set a precedent that a future Democratic president could use to take similar action regarding gun control.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday that the president would sign congressional legislation providing $1.375 billion for new border barrier construction, but would also take executive action to obtain additional funds, Fox News reported.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” Sanders said in a statement. “The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”
While urging the legislation’s passage earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed on the Senate floor that the president is “prepared to sign the bill. He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time.”
Pelosi responded to that prospect telling reporters, “I know that Republicans have some unease about it no matter they say. … Just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people.”
“You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America,” the speaker continued, referring to the Parkland high school shooting that left 17 dead.
.@SpeakerPelosi: "When the president declares this emergency, first of all, it's not an emergency what's happening at the border." She also says, "the president making an end run around Congress." pic.twitter.com/viBObvmFzw
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 14, 2019
“That’s a national emergency,” Pelosi argued. “A Democratic president can do that. Democratic presidents can declare emergencies, as well. So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.”
In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer contended that Trump declaring a national emergency would be an act of lawlessness.
“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” they said.
“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it,” they added. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”
Pelosi declined to say whether congressional Democrats would file a lawsuit seeking to block Trump, but indicated it would be an option.
Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted, “Gun violence is an emergency. Climate change is an emergency. Our country’s opioid epidemic is an emergency. Donald Trump’s ridiculous wall is not an emergency.”
Gun violence is an emergency.
Climate change is an emergency.
Our country's opioid epidemic is an emergency.
Donald Trump's ridiculous wall is not an emergency.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 14, 2019
CNN political commentator Doug Heye tweeted, “Make no mistake: the next Democratic President will declare national emergencies on guns and climate change and cite the Trump precedent when doing so.”
The president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., responded, “Make no mistake, anyone who thinks they wouldn’t do this all anyway hasn’t been watching.”
Make no mistake, anyone who thinks they wouldn’t do this all anyway hasn’t been watching. https://t.co/cxbEPT88Yz
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 14, 2019
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas compiled a list of 76 lawless acts by Barack Obama while the 44th president was still in office.
They included creating the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) program in 2012 after he stated he had no authority to do so. He also established the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), of which the Supreme Court ultimately blocked implementation.
Additionally, he disregarded the 1996 welfare reform law’s work requirement.
Other critics have pointed to Obama’s Clean Power Plan, committing the United States to the U.N. Paris Climate Accord, and signing the Iran nuclear deal as other examples of the former president doing an end run around Congress.
Many argued the latter two were treaties requiring the Senate to approve them with a two-thirds vote.
Trump has argued, as commander-in-chief, the Constitution gives him the clear authority to secure the nation’s border against drug cartels and other violent criminal activity.