House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday warned about the dangerous precedent President Donald Trump could set if he declares a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall.
“I know the Republicans have some unease about it, no matter what they say,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. “Because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people.”
Pelosi said the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border doesn’t constitute an “emergency,” as Trump has framed it, but rather a “humanitarian challenge.”
Trump said Thursday that he would sign a congressional spending bill that would avoid sending the government into another shutdown on Friday. But he also said he intended to declare a national emergency to secure billions of dollars for a border wall he once vowed Mexico would pay for.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action ― including a national emergency ― to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“You want to talk about a national emergency?” Pelosi said. “Let’s talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency.”
Pelosi was referring to the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She noted that a Democratic president could declare a national emergency on gun violence and warned Republicans to carefully consider the precedent Trump would set by using his executive power to override Congress.
“Democratic presidents can declare emergencies as well,” Pelosi said. “So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.”
Several Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have warned Trump against the extreme option of declaring a national emergency to pay for the wall.
McConnell privately cautioned the president earlier this month that the decision could spark backlash from members of his own party, The Washington Post reported.
In a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Pelosi accused Trump of “fearmongering” and said an emergency declaration “would be a lawless act.”
“It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law,” they wrote.
Pelosi said Democrats may consider filing a legal challenge against any state of emergency declaration from Trump.