House Democrats To Vote In Tuesday Showdown Over Trump's National Emergency Declaration

The Hill is reporting that Democratic Party leadership in the House has quickly sprung into action to challenge President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency. Trump declared said emergency on Febrary 15, in order to secure funding for his long-desired wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. By scheduling a Tuesday floor vote on a resolution of disapproval that has been introduced by Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, the House hopes to start the process of rejecting Trump's play.

The move could set up the first-ever use of the presidential veto pen by Trump should it pass the Democrat-controlled House -- providing that the Republican-controlled Senate bucks the wishes of the president on his signature campaign promise.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced the move in a Friday conference call, one during which she characterized Trump's invocation of the National Emergency Act as an affront to the separation of powers, something that could potentially even precipitate a constitutional crisis.

"The president's act is lawless and does violence to our constitution and therefore to our democracy. We do not have a monarchy; we have a separation of powers in our country."
The one-page resolution submitted by Rep. Castro would terminate the emergency declaration, blocking the president's attempt to secure border wall funding from other programs without Congressional approval or oversight. Castro claimed that the Democrats have been seeking bipartisan support for the measure -- and that among the resolution's 225 co-sponsors, he counts at least one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.

"I know [Republicans] care about the Constitution of the United States," said Pelosi. "I know they care about the separation of powers and the coequal nature of the branches of government. What's really important is how they will vote on Tuesday."

Migrants at US border meet border patrol agent.
Getty Images | John Moore
U.S. Border Patrol agents meet migrants at Mexican border near El Paso, Texas.

However, signs point to the majority of House Republicans digging in their heels and standing by their president. Things could get interesting in the Senate, where a handful of Republican "reluctant supporters" of the president's policies and appointments tend to make noises of disapproval at the outset, but eventually go along with Trump's wishes. The Senators who will be most closely watched include Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Donald Trump at a reception.
Getty Images | Win McNamee

At the end of the day, however, even if the resolution passes the House as expected -- and somehow squeaks by in the Senate -- most observers don't think that the president's opponents have the necessary votes to override an almost-certain Trump veto. Each chamber would need to scrape together two-thirds majorities in order to stave off the veto, a result that seems unlikely in today's starkly divided government.