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Congress tries to block Trump’s national emergency border wall declaration

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WASHINGTON — Congress will take its first step to try to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration to build additional physical barriers along the United States border with Mexico on Tuesday.

The resolution, put forth by Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, would terminate the national emergency declaration, but faces significant hurdles if it is to be as successful as Democrats hope.

Read more:The lawsuits challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration to build the border wall keep piling up

During a phone call with reporters, Castro said he filed the resolution Friday morning.

“What the president is attempting is an unconstitutional power grab. He has throughout his presidency sought to undermine the judiciary, and now the legislative branches of government,” he said. “This is an historic power grab and it will require historic unity by members of Congress — Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative — to counteract the president’s parasitic movement.”

Castro said he and his staff began crafting the resolution in advance of Trump’s decision as the threat loomed during the record-long 35-day partial government shutdown gripped Washington.

“My staff and I began working with legislative counsel to figure out the best way to make sure that Congress can take a vote on this issue and potentially terminate the declaration,” Castro said. “[The resolution] is the product of those six weeks of work.”

The resolution has 226 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats, with the exception of Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.

Castro said courting Republicans has been a slow process, partly due to Congress being out of session since Trump made the emergency declaration. Castro also noted that he has sent letters to GOP offices appealing to Republican members to join his cause.

“So this isn’t a situation where we’ve just been courting one side,” Castro said.

Whether or not more Republicans will get on board with the resolution is unclear, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has stated his colleagues will not stand in the way of Trump’s decision, nor do they question his legal authority to divert appropriated funds to build a border wall.

In terms of a timeline, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House Rules Committee will take up the resolution on Monday, which will receive a vote on the floor on Tuesday.

“I believe letters to Republicans is out of respect for their patriotism. I know they care about the Constitution and the United States. I know they care about separation of powers and the coequal nature of the branches of government,” Pelosi told reporters. “So it’s out of respect — out of their respect for the Constitution that we invite them to join. What’s really important is how they will vote.”

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