US Judge Says No to Democrats’ Effort to Stop Trump’s Border Wall Funds

June 3, 2019 Updated: June 4, 2019

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit that House Democrats had wanted to use to block President Donald Trump’s plan to divert funds to help build a border wall.

District Court Judge Trevor McFadden of the District of Columbia ruled that the lawsuit lacked legal standing (pdf). Democrats wanted to sue Trump for using money appropriated by Congress for other purposes to build the wall.

“This is a case about whether one chamber of Congress has the ‘constitutional means’ to conscript the Judiciary in a political turf war with the President over the implementation of legislation,” McFadden wrote.

“[W]hile the Constitution bestows upon Members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the Executive Branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority,” he added.

“The Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims and will deny its motion.”

The Justice Department supported McFadden’s ruling. In a statement, a department spokesman said: “The court rightly ruled that the House of Representatives cannot ask the judiciary to take its side in political disputes and cannot use federal courts to accomplish through litigation what it cannot achieve using the tools the Constitution gives to Congress.”

Democrats were reviewing the ruling and are deciding whether to appeal, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Reuters.

Earlier on May 24, judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. had blocked $1 billion in Defense Department funds that Trump had wanted to use toward the border wall. On May 30, Gilliam rejected the government’s efforts to start constructing the wall while it appeals to a higher court.

Securing Funding for Border Crisis

Since taking office, Trump has demanded that Congress fund construction of a wall on the southern border—his landmark campaign promise. Democrats, whose votes are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, have thwarted all attempts.

In December last year when the president stood by his campaign promise and refused to sign the spending bill that arrived on his desk withholding funds for a border wall, Congress missed a deadline to fund the government, triggering a partial shutdown. The shutdown stretched on for 35 days, between Dec. 22 and Jan. 25, the longest in United States history.

On Feb. 14, after a protracted political battle, Congress and the president approved $1.375 billion for construction of “primary pedestrian fencing” along the border in southeastern Texas. It was well short of Trump’s demands, but the president signed the funding, saying that he would get the money another way to address the humanitarian crisis on the southwest border.

Trump then declared a national emergency on Feb. 15. The move enabled him to redirect Department of Defense funds, beyond what Congress approved, toward building the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump enabled the transfer of $3.6 billion from the military construction budget toward wall construction. The president also ordered the shifting of an additional $3.1 billion, which did not require declaring a national emergency: $2.5 billion was transferred from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $601 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.

On March 14, the Senate passed a privileged resolution to terminate Trump’s national border emergency declaration. Trump then used his veto power for the first time in his presidency on March 15 to override that congressional resolution.

On March 26, the Democratic-led House tried but failed to override Trump’s veto. At that point, the White House had secured $8.1 billion toward border wall construction.

On average, approximately 2,000 illegal immigrants enter the United States on a daily basis, according to the White House. Many of those who enter have criminal histories or are gang members.

Cartels are taking advantage of the porous border to smuggle vast amounts of drugs into the country, contributing to an already devastating opioid crisis. Meanwhile, some 10,000 children are trafficked across the border every year to be sold as sex slaves.

With reporting by Reuters, and Epoch Times writers Ivan Pentchoukov and Petr Svab.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy
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