Congress

Senate Democrats to try blocking Trump’s border wall diversion again

Shifting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds reignites effort to force a termination vote

"This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is poised to say on the Senate floor. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will announce that his caucus will force another floor vote to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency.

“This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly important when we have such an overreaching president? This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” the New York Democrat will say on the Senate floor, according to an excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call.

Last week the Pentagon announced intentions to divert $3.6 billion in previously appropriated funds for military base projects in the U.S. and overseas in order to finance construction of a southern border wall. President Donald Trump invoked emergency powers on Feb. 15 enabling him to access the funds, which lawmakers said was an end-run around their Constitutional “power of the purse.”

The termination resolution is privileged under the terms of the 1976 law establishing the president’s authority to tap military construction and other funds in situations deemed a “national emergency,” giving it priority for expedited consideration.

A senior Senate Democratic aide confirmed the plan, first reported by the Washington Post, citing the ability to call a vote on a joint resolution of termination shortly after a national emergency is declared and then again every six months under the 1976 law.

The six-month anniversary of Trump’s initial declaration was Aug. 15; at the time, during the summer recess, Democrats were unsure of their strategy. House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith, D-Washington, told CQ Roll Call at the time that another resolution to terminate Trump’s emergency authority was unlikely to succeed, noting March votes in both the House and Senate that weren't sufficient to override a presidential veto.

[Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court]

But the Senate vote was closer, falling just eight votes short of the necessary two-thirds margin for an override. And Schumer appears to be calculating that the specific projects targeted last week in the Pentagon announcement might lead to sufficient pressure on vulnerable GOP senators up for re-election in 2020, such as Arizona’s Martha McSally and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis.

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