Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) said Monday that if the president were to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall, she would lead a legal challenge against it.
Wasserman Schultz, who formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee and is now chairwoman of the House subcommittee that handles military construction, said Congress has not appropriated the funds for a wall. Asked about how to challenge President Donald Trump in the event he declares an emergency, Wasserman Schultz said she would "most definitely" take it to court.
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"I can tell you that as the chair of the subcommittee that appropriates funds for our military, I would absolutely, along with my colleagues, challenge the president's ability to make such a declaration," she said. "It is not legal, not in compliance with the National Emergency Act that he would be attempting to utilize, and there is certainly not a national emergency."
She compared Trump to Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, who is in a struggle to retain power after National Assembly president Juan Guiado used constitutional measures to temporarily assume the presidency.
"This is more the actions of a dictator. The president on the one hand has been declaring his opposition to the actions of a dictator in Venezuela at the same time that he is suggesting he would act like one here in the United States," she said.
Wasserman Schultz’s reasoning was based on Congress’s power over funding.
"The president doesn't have the power of the purse," she said. "He can't just decide that he doesn't like the way Congress has appropriated the funds in an appropriations act that has been signed into law, and so because we are not doing what he wants, he thinks he can just declare a national emergency and take the money from military construction projects that are already woefully underfunded."
"The president would deprive and starve the members of our military if he takes this act, and it would be unconstitutional and mired in court. That can be taken to the bank," she added.