Rep. Barr Takes House to Task on Border Wall
Files IRLI-drafted brief opposing governing by lawsuit
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, on behalf of Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Trump administration in DC federal district court, where the House of Representatives is suing to try to stop the administration from using emergency funds to build a border wall.
Earlier in the year, following a lengthy government shutdown, President Trump signed a spending bill that included very inadequate funding for a wall. He then declared a national emergency at the border – thus, under laws passed by previous Congresses, acquiring the power to unlock certain federal funds meant for emergencies and devote them to wall construction. In response, majorities in both the House and Senate passed a joint resolution to terminate the emergency, but Trump vetoed this measure. Then, considering Trump’s actions an “end-run” around the prerogative of the House of Representatives to appropriate funds, the House sued.
In its brief, IRLI shows that the House’s suit is based on the false premise that Trump is defying the will of Congress. In fact, Congress can enact its will only through laws. By following the law Congress passed, Trump is defying not Congress, but only the wishes of the House and Senate majorities. That is a crucial difference, since a bill only becomes law if the President signs it, or it is passed by two-thirds majorities in both houses, and neither of those things happened here.
“This lawsuit is just an attempt by the House to get a court to order what it could not achieve politically – that no more money than the piddling amount appropriated this February can be used to build a wall,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “That’s not what the law says. What the laws does say is the President can declare a national emergency in his discretion, and then use previously-appropriated funds to deal with the emergency. If the current House majority doesn’t like that, it must find a political solution if it can – for whether Trump’s policy is a good one is a political question, to be decided ultimately by the votes of the people, not unelected federal judges.”
The case is U.S. House of Representatives v. Mnuchin, No. 1:19-cv-0969 (D.D.C.).
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