WASHINGTON D.C. — Rep. Dan Newhouse voted Tuesday against a resolution to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration on the southern border. The resolution passed the House by a 245-182 vote.
The Trump administration declared a national emergency Feb. 15 to appropriate funds for the construction of a southern border wall. The construction project is set to use, in order, $1.375 billion appropriated by Congress, $3.1 billion under other statutory authorities, and $3.6 billion in military construction funds available under a national emergency.
Newhouse was the only congressman from Washington state to vote against the resolution, with all Democrats from the state and Newhouse’s Republican colleagues Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler voting to block the emergency declaration. Though Newhouse has voiced support for Trump’s proposed border wall, Newhouse has also previously spoken against using an emergency declaration to appropriate federal money for the wall’s construction.
“Should the declaration simply be to state that there is a crisis at the border that must be solved, then I would agree,” Newhouse said in a statement two weeks ago. “However, if the terms of a declaration are that the President would unilaterally redirect funds not appropriated by Congress, then I believe that would be a slippery slope that would violate the separation of powers in our Constitution.”
It would not be difficult to imagine a Democratic president using the precedent to declare a national emergency to “spend public funds on a Green New Deal or to nationalize our health care system,” Newhouse continued.
But Newhouse’s position appeared to change dramatically Tuesday, as he suggested in a statement that the precedent had already been made by previous presidents.
“Today, instead of attempting to find a compromise to come to agreement on President Trump’s border security request, House Democrats are attempting to deprive the President of the same authority used by previous presidents to declare a national emergency,” Newhouse said in a statement Tuesday.
During debate on the House floor Tuesday, a number of Republicans, who largely but not unanimously voted against the resolution, and Democrats, who voted unanimously in favor, made their case on the merits of the proposal.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, chair of the libertarian House Freedom Caucus, argued the Democrats were underestimating or ignoring the crisis on the southern border.
“Keeping criminals out, human trafficking and drug smugglers away from our communities is paramount,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina on the House floor Tuesday. “Indeed, we do have an opioid problem, we’ve actually appropriated billions of dollars to address that, and yet somehow, the drugs flowing across our southern border are not a crisis?”
Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, argued Republicans voting against the resolution were betraying their conservative values.
“They claim to be pro-military, but Trump’s actions would take money away from the defense budget,” Hoyer said on the House floor. “They claim to be pro-property rights, but Trump’s actions would result in taking of private property along the border. And they claim to be constitutional conservatives, but Trump’s actions is an obvious violation of Article 1 of the Constitution.”
The resolution is now slated to go to the Senate, where Democrats need just one more Republican to vote in favor in order to put it on Trump’s desk. Trump is expected to veto the resolution.