Florida Lawmakers Divided Over National Emergency

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is declaring a national emergency over southern border wall security funding, redirecting $8 billion to fund his border wall.

  • President Trump declares national emergency over border funding
  • Some lawmakers say the move offsets balance of power
  • Unclear if Republicans will side with Democrats to stop plan

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill believe the declaration is offsetting the balance of power between the President and Congress.

“If it was such an emergency it would have been done already — instead it is being used as an alternative to seeking funding through Congress, which is our duty under the constitution,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-Florida, 9th District).

Democrats mostly call the move an abuse of power, while some Republicans are starting to side with the president.

“There’s a lot of precedent for that. I mean, we’ve declared national security issues to protect other countries … although I’ve been fired up about doing something about this border when it seemed like no one else was,” said Rep. Bill Posey (R-Florida, 8th District).

The Florida delegation is split, and it’s not all along party lines. There’s concern the declaration is a violation of the constitution, and some prefer the President use alternatives to secure the money for the wall.

“He does have discretionary funds — from I’ve heard, about $1 billion that he has, discretionary funds that he can use without declaring a state of emergency,” said Rep. Ross Spano (R-Florida, 15th District).

The President’s announcement Friday pulls together roughly $8 billion for his border wall. Nearly $1.4 billion comes from the bipartisan spending bill. With the emergency declaration, another $3.5 billion from the Pentagon construction budget.

The remaining funds come from executive orders, including $600 million from the Treasury Department and an additional $2.5 billion from the Pentagon.

“He’s going to be hurting our military,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Florida, 23rd District).

Wasserman-Schultz chairs the appropriations sub-committee responsible for military construction funding. She said diverting those dollars is unacceptable.

“He’s going to be compromising our national security and the military’s way of life by taking money Congress has already appropriated to take care of badly needed projects,” she said.

House Democratic leaders are already plotting exactly how they plan to proceed, a top priority for them when they return from next week’s recess.

“We will respond accordingly, when we review our options,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi during a news conference with reporters on Friday.

One of those options: The House and Senate could take up a resolution of disapproval that could block President Trump’s declaration.

It’s unclear if enough Republicans will side with Democrats to stop his emergency plan.

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