Washington leadership began questioning President Donald Trump’s constitutional authority almost immediately after he announced plans to declare a national emergency to pay for a border wall.
“The president’s declaration is an alarming and legally dubious attempt to sidestep the constitutional authority granted to Congress, the co-equal branch of government where debates over immigration reform and border security can be held openly in the light of day,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press release.
“This declaration doesn’t do a single thing to make our nation safer. All it does is further divide Americans, erode our system of checks and balances, and advance the president’s agenda of fear and misinformation,” he said. “We should all be outraged by this president’s abuse of power.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he’s disappointed but not surprised by Trump’s declaration.
“My legal team has been reviewing this issue for some time,” Ferguson said in a press release. “In short, declaring a state of ‘emergency’ to build his wall is unlawful. We are working with members of our congressional delegation to determine if this action depletes federal funds flowing to Washington. If Washington is harmed, my office will take appropriate steps to block this unlawful action, just as we’ve blocked more than a dozen illegal and unconstitutional policies of this president.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., characterized Trump’s decision as un-American and an abuse of power.
“I can only hope that he listens to people across the country and reverses course immediately,” Murray said in a press release. The idea that the President not being able to pass his wasteful wall spending through Congress — a wall that he promised Mexico would pay for and that wouldn’t even be built for years — constitutes an ‘emergency’ is absolutely absurd and deeply wrong. This is not the way our government is supposed to work, and this is not remotely what was intended when these emergency authorities were created.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she supports the bipartisan funding bill and the border security measures it includes.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, said though she supports increased border security, she does not support the president’s declaration to redirect funds already appropriated by Congress.
“If President Obama had ever hinted at using emergency powers in this way, I would have spoken out strongly against it, and consistency demands that I do the same now,” Herrera Beutler said. “An emergency declaration would set a dangerous precedent. Some conservatives may cheer today, but someday it’s likely that the shoe will be on the other foot, and a liberal president would have the power to disregard Congress, declare an emergency, and enact whatever policy she sees fit.”