CHN urges Congress to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration


February 26, 2019

Update: The House on Tuesday, Feb. 26 voted 245-182 in favor the resolution. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be taken up in March.

Editor’s note: In a letter signed by CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein and sent to every member of the U.S. House, CHN this week urged Congress to vote in favor of a resolution to terminate the President’s national emergency declaration regarding the border. This is CHN’s letter:

On behalf of the Coalition on Human Needs, please vote YES on the House Resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration. The resolution was introduced pursuant to the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622).

President Trump’s emergency declaration expressly ignores the will of Congress. The Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to appropriate. Congress did so after lengthy bipartisan negotiations, specifying amounts for approved types of border barriers. Instead of respecting the separation of powers and the legislation he just signed, President Trump declared a specious state of emergency in order to seize about $6 billion dollars from the U.S. military as well as about $600 million from Treasury Asset Forfeiture funds in order to build the border wall “much faster” than Congress intended. The National Emergencies Act was never intended to allow the President to violate the terms of just-enacted appropriations legislation. Congress must exert its authority to terminate the President’s declaration and re-assert itself as a co-equal branch of government. 

There is no national emergency at our southern border. President Trump falsely claimed there is a “security crisis at the southern border” in his January 8 televised speech. Since 2000, the number of apprehensions at the border has declined from 1.6 million to just under 400,000 in 2018. Most illegal drugs transported over the southern border would not be stopped by a border wall. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, the majority of drugs are actually smuggled through legal ports of entry.  Increased numbers of unarmed women and children legally seeking asylum by presenting themselves at the southern border are a humanitarian crisis that the Administration’s actions have made worse. Congress appropriated funds intended for military construction projects and drug interdiction. Congress did not intend give the President a blank check to replace this funding with wall construction, and there is no factual evidence of an emergency that would warrant usurping Congressional authority.

The Coalition on Human Needs is made up of national organizations representing human service providers, faith communities, policy experts, and civil rights, labor, and other advocates concerned with meeting the needs of low-income and vulnerable people.  We work to make the case to Congress about the need to fund a wide range of services and understand that a president’s false claim of an emergency could set a precedent that could undermine vital services needed by millions of people, should Congress not assert its constitutional power to set appropriations in this very clear instance of presidential overreach.

Please vote YES on the House Resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration in order to uphold our constitutional separation of powers and our democracy.