PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As lawmakers express concern or condemnation at President Donald Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, all four Rhode Island congressmen are on the side of faulting the president’s methods.
In the Rose Garden Friday morning, the president said he plans to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and anti-drug efforts to have the wall built through the emergency declaration and other executive actions.
Sen. Jack Reed, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Friday that he voted to approve the spending budget in the Senate, but that the emergency declaration for additional spending sets a dangerous precedent that a president could “disregard” Congress. It’s “outrageous on its face,” he said, “but also raises serious questions about constitutional values. Congress… on a bipartisan basis, rejected the money for the elaborate wall he wants; rather, we invested over one billion dollars in good border security, technology, additional border security forces. So, this will raise all sorts of questions.”
“Emergency authorities may only be exercised for legitimate national security purposes, not abused for political reasons because the President cannot get his way in Congress,” Rep. Jim Langevin said in a statement released after the president’s remarks Friday. “Congress must act to protect the system of checks and balances set up by our founders, or else this will become a day we remember as a turning point in our Republic.”
Langevin’s colleague, Rep. David Cicilline, said in a statement Thursday that the president “should be working with Congress to reform our immigration system,” adding that after he has visited the southern border multiple times, “There is no national emergency at the border.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, in the meantime, said “the president is thrusting the country into a new manufactured crisis… I expect the courts will find that [President Trump’s] declaration is baseless and irrelevant.”