‘This is about the Constitution’: Pa’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick votes with Dems to nullify Trump’s emergency declaration

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted to block President Trump’s emergency border wall declaration on Tuesday, delivering a stinging rebuke to the White House.

The chamber voted 245-182 for a resolution to end Trump’s emergency declaration. The president is attempting to use the declaration to circumvent Congress to secure billions of dollars in funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District (WikiMedia Commons)

The resolution now heads to the GOP-led Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is required under the National Emergencies Act to hold a vote on the House resolution within 18 days.

Several Senate Republicans have signaled they’ll side with Democrats in the vote, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The resolution would need the support of at least four Republicans to clear the chamber.

Trump has said he’d veto the resolution if it makes it to his desk. Overriding that veto would require two-thirds majorities of 290 in the House and 67 votes in the Senate. In Tuesday’s vote, House backers of that resolution fell short of the votes they would need to override a veto.

Trump has argued that the declaration is necessary to secure U.S. borders and curb crime. He wrote on Twitter Monday, “I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!”

Thirteen Republicans joined Democratic lawmakers in supporting the resolution. They included Reps. Justin Amash and Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Will Hurd of Texas, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Tom Rooney of Florida, Elise Stefanik of New York and Greg Walden of Oregon.

In a Twitter post, Fitzpatrick said he agreed with Amash that Tuesday’s vote was “much bigger than any one issue, and any one President. This is about the Constitution, the separation of powers, and about setting precedents that apply equally to all future Congresses and all future Presidents.”

Pennsylvania Democrats stood firm.

“The problem is that the President can’t pay for this emergency, unless he takes money from other important projects like the new construction planned at our own reserve Air Force base in Moon Township [in Allegheny County],” U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, said in a statement. “This $85 million project will create more than 200 jobs and have a $200 million impact on our local economy.”

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, said she signed on as a “[co-sponsor to] this bill to fulfill my duty to protect our national security.”

Other Pennsylvania Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, stood with the White House.

“Two facts are abundantly clear – we have a crisis at our southern border and the President has the legal authority to declare a national emergency to address it,” Joyce said in a statement. “In recent years, the number of large migrant groups crossing the southern border has skyrocketed and since 2012 our U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized more than 11 million pounds of drugs between ports of entry. The best way to combat these developments, as evidenced by the successes we have seen in places like El Paso, Tuscan and Yuma, is to allocate adequate funding for physical barriers in the places where we need them.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump’s move a “power grab” that “fundamentally violates the balance of power envisioned by our Founders.”

Critics of the president’s declaration are suing Trump, too. Sixteen states led by California filed a lawsuit seeking to block the declaration. Those states also include: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, says he’s keeping the state’s options open on joining the lawsuit.

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