Jim McGovern: ‘One hell of a fight’ over Trump emergency declaration

BOSTON — President Donald Trump “thinks he is a dictator,” U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said Friday as he predicted that both Congress and the courts will react to Trump’s announcement that he is declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

McGovern, speaking to WGBH’s “Morning Edition” on Friday, said he hopes the U.S. House and Senate will pass resolutions disapproving of the president’s action with enough support from Republicans to override a potential presidential veto.

“I think the president is in for one hell of a fight, and I think he is not on solid ground here,” said McGovern, who chairs the U.S. House Rules Committee. “I think he thinks he is a dictator and not a president, and maybe someone in his staff needs to give him a history book about the Constitution.”

After a bipartisan congressional panel recommended, and then Congress passed, a compromise on border security that included money for a border barrier — but not the full $5.7 billion Trump had requested - Sen. Mitch McConnell said the president would sign the deal to keep the government open but will also declare an emergency to direct funding toward a wall.

“Congress passed a bill to keep the government running and it purposefully denied the president the money he was asking for, so this flies in the face of what a bipartisan compromise on the budget deemed was appropriate yesterday,” McGovern said. “The way I understand my Constitutional history, this is a violation of the Constitution and if we can’t do it legislatively, I hope and expect that the courts will act in a way that will stop him.”

In the Rose Garden on Friday morning, Trump announced that he is “going to sign a national emergency” to deal with issues on the southern border.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or another,” Trump said in his speech Friday. “We have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country, much of it coming from the southern border ... (Democrats) say walls don’t work. Walls work 100 percent.”

Later, Trump said that his signing of a national emergency declaration is “a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it’s unacceptable.”

Besides McGovern, other local members of Congress also criticized Trump’s decision.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, who represents the 5th Congressional District, which includes Framingham, Natick, Ashland and Southborough, released a statement calling Trump’s declaration “a sham.”

“Trump’s wall has never been about national security: it is a political applause line he uses to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment,” Clark said. “While his moral authority has always been in question, he is now undermining the legal authority of the Office of the President and violating Article 1 of the Constitution.”

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, of the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Marlborough, Hudson and part of Sudbury, said in a statement that she would “work with my colleagues from both parties to provide a check on what is a clear abuse of power.”

“Let me be very clear: the Administration is seeking to divert billions of dollars from approved and ongoing military construction projects that are necessary to keep our nation safe and secure in order to spend it on an ineffective, wasteful wall,” Trahan said. “The President is heading down an unprecedented and reckless path. Now more than ever, Congress must lead on important issues like immigration reform, asylum and border security.”

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