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Maine’s congressional delegation is unified in its opposition to President Donald Trump’s use of emergency powers to redirect money to build a partial wall on the border with Mexico.
After signing a budget bill to avert another looming government shutdown, the president declared a national emergency Friday in order to sidestep Congress and secure an additional $6.5 billion for additional barriers along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Members of Maine’s congressional delegation said his action will provoke court cases challenging its legality and legislation to override the order.
Independent Sen. Angus King told CNN that he believes the president’s action is unconstitutional.
“I am very concerned about idea that the president can just spend money on a project, whatever the project is, without working with the Congress,” King said. “That’s not the way our system is designed. In fact I would argue that’s exactly what the framers wanted to avoid.”
King said it’s a mistake for the president to invoke emergency powers, and Republican Sen. Susan Collins agrees. The National Emergencies Act was intended to apply only to major disasters or catastrophes, and that the situation on the border does not meet the threshold for declaration, she said. But Collins said while she believes the president’s action is unconstitutional, she is not sure if she will support an expected resolution from the House.
“I don’t know if it will be a straight forward resolution that simply seeks to overturn what I believe is a very bad policy decision by the president that is of dubious constitutionality, or whether the resolution will have all sorts of other provisions in it,” Collins said.
Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said Trump’s action will be challenged by a House resolution, and she believes that it could win approval of both houses of congress.
“I’m sure it will pass the House,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it passes the Senate. This is about the Constitution and the separation of powers.”
Any such resolution could be subject to a veto, which would require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to be overridden.
Both Pingree and Collins, meanwhile, said they are concerned that in seeking funds for the wall, the president may target more than $150 million in construction projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that have been funded, but not started. Depending on what projects he chooses to redirect funds, Trump could invite a lot of political pressure from lawmakers in affected states.
Second District Congressman Jared Golden issued a statement saying that the President was wrong to make the declaration and should work with Congress to fix the nation’s immigration system.
In addition to the anticipated congressional resolution, all members of the delegation said they expect a flurry of lawsuits seeking to block trump’s action in the next few weeks.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.