Schumer Floor Remarks On Today’s Vote To Terminate President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

September 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for Republicans to vote with Democrats to oppose the president’s outrageous national emergency declaration, which the Trump administration is using to divert funds from military construction projects to pay for his border wall. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

The commencing of the impeachment inquiry in the House, while significant, is not the only significant action Congress will take today, nor is it the only action dealing with the president’s overreach. Today, the Senate will vote on President Trump’s national emergency declaration, which he is using to steal money from our military in order to fund a border wall. Rather than accept the reality that a bipartisan majority has repeatedly rejected this idea, and after dragging the country through the longest government shutdown in American history when he didn’t get his way, President Trump deliberately circumvented Congress.

Democrats universally oppose the president’s outrageous decision to declare a national emergency, so let me direct my remarks this morning to my Republican colleagues. There are two crucial reasons for my Republican colleagues to vote to terminate the emergency.

First, the vote today is the surest, and likely the only, way to restore funding the president has stolen from our troops and military projects across the country. President Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall, not American taxpayers, and certainly not the military, the men and women and their families involved in keeping our nation secure. President Trump broke that promise and now over 120 military projects hang in the balance: a middle school for military families in Kentucky, medical facilities in North Carolina, a hurricane relief project in Florida, an air force base in Colorado, a fire station in South Carolina, construction projects in Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia and more. These were all carefully considered by the military, the Department of Defense, and put in the budget because they were very much needed. These are not frivolous projects at all.

A vote for the president today is a vote in favor of cutting funding for our military and slashing support for critical military projects in red states as well as blue.

And second, and maybe even more importantly, my Republican colleagues should vote to terminate the emergency declaration today on constitutional grounds. Under the Constitution, the power of the purse lies with Congress, not the President. By declaring a national emergency, the President has trampled on that authority and is violating the constitutional separation of powers. We know what an emergency is: soldiers at risk, the risk of war. Of course the president should have flexibility then. But not on a policy decision where there’s great dispute in the congress and in the country and when the president lost in legislative battle that ensued. By voting to endorse the president’s emergency—this expansive and political stretching of the word “emergency” in a way it’s never been stretched before—Republican Senators will set a dangerous precedent that could embolden not just this president, but future presidents to ignore Congressional authority.

So today, my Republican colleagues face a choice whether or not to defend our troops, whether or not to defend their states, whether or not to defend this chamber’s undeniable constitutional powers. Last time we held this vote, 12 Republican colleagues joined us in voting to undo the emergency. I hope more do so this time. Because this isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. We don’t want any president, Democrat or Republican, to overreach and use the word “emergency” to overcome Congressional will. This is about checks and balances, not about Republicans and Democrats, and the need for the Senate to rein in an out-of-control executive.