Trump has said the declaration is necessary to build a wall and secure the border with Mexico, though Congress has not provided funding to do so.
“The facts don’t justify declaring a national emergency along our southern border,” Democrat Mike Doyle said in a statement, which called the national emergency fake and ridiculous. “By the President’s own admission, his emergency declaration is an attempted end-run around Congress in order to get more money for his wall this year,” said the Pittsburgh Democrat.
Rep. Conor Lamb voted with Doyle, though his own statement didn’t comment on the validity of the emergency declaration. Instead, he called the declaration an attempt to spend more money on border security than Congress agreed to. Lamb said the President’s declaration could jeopardize funding for projects in western Pennsylvania.
“The problem is that the President can’t pay for this emergency unless he takes money from other important projects like the new construction planned at our own reserve Air Force base in Moon Township,” Lamb said in a statement. “This $85 million project will create more than 200 jobs and have a $200 million impact on our local economy.”
Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents southeastern Pennsylvanians in Bucks County and part of Montgomery County, voted with Democrats to block the measure. Fitzpatrick, who is considered vulnerable to a Democratic challenge in 2020, has voted with Democrats on other measures.
Western Pennsylvania Republicans Mike Kelly and Guy Reschenthaler supported the President’s emergency declaration and voted against the measure.
“President Trump declared a national emergency on our southern border to fix a problem that has existed for decades,” Kelly said in a statement. “Democrats are attempting to state that no such emergency exists. They also cast the President as lawless, stating that his legal authority to declare the national emergency does not exist.”
Rep. Reschenthaler pointed to the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which authorizes the President to declare a national emergency.
“It is past time for our country to address the security threats and humanitarian crisis at our southern border,” he said his statement. “I will stand with President Trump to address this emergency and keep Americans safe.”
The House vote came after 58 former senior national-security officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations published a letter stating that they were not aware of any national emergency that would justify diverting funds for border security.
“We have lived and worked through national emergencies, and we support the President’s power to mobilize the Executive Branch to respond quickly in genuine national emergencies,” the officials wrote. “But under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today.”
The resolution now goes to the Senate for a vote.