House Democrats formally kicked off the next round in a months-long fight over funding a border wall on Friday, introducing a joint resolution to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.
The resolution was spearheaded by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and quickly drew support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats.
“The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to members of Congress this week.
The House will vote on the measure next week. Here’s a rundown of what could happen with the congressional challenge to the president’s national emergency declaration.
How are national emergencies “terminated”?
Under the 1976 act that grants the president the authority to declare a national emergency, Congress has the right to challenge any such declaration through a joint resolution. Such resolutions must pass both chambers of Congress.
If a resolution is approved by both chambers and signed into law by the president, it automatically terminates a national emergency declaration. If a president vetoes the resolution — as Trump is expected to do if it makes it to his desk — Congress can still end the declaration by voting to override the veto.
What’s the timeline for House and Senate votes?
These resolutions move quickly, at least by congressional standards.
This resolution is slated for a vote in the House on Tuesday. Since Democrats hold a 235-197 majority, and the resolution currently has 226 sponsors, it’s expected to pass with more than enough votes.
Were the House to approve the resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be required to bring it up for a vote on the Senate floor within 18 days. The resolution is “privileged” under parliamentary rules, meaning that it takes precedence over other matters that could be brought to the floor. Under Senate rules, the resolution cannot be delayed by a filibuster.
In the Senate, like the House, a simple majority is needed for the resolution to pass. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has already indicated that she would support the resolution. Collins, a moderate Republican, told reporters Wednesday that she thought the declaration was “of dubious constitutionality” and “completely undermines the role of Congress in the appropriations process.”
Collins’ argument echoed Pelosi and other Democrats who have said Trump should not go around Congress to find other sources of funding for a border wall after lawmakers did not include money for the wall in the deal reached earlier this month.
With a yes from Collins, only three additional Republican votes in favor of the resolution would be needed for it to clear the Senate. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina are considered possible “no” votes, and in the weeks before Trump declared the national emergency declaration other Republicans voiced concerns with the move.
The resolution could lead to the president’s first veto
If the resolution makes it through both chambers, Trump would almost certainly veto the measure once it got to his desk. This would be Trump’s first veto.
The veto could be overridden by Congress, but would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber, which is highly unlikely since a large number of House and Senate Republicans would have to break with the president.
But even if the resolution is vetoed and Congress doesn’t override Trump, it would still be seen by many as a symbolic victory for opponents of the national emergency declaration and the president’s proposed border wall. The resolution will also force Republicans, especially in the Senate, to take tough votes that indicate their support for the president on one of his signature issues.