Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI05) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI07) joined their Democratic colleagues in voting for a resolution in the House of Representatives opposing President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border with Mexico.

“Previous presidents have used the authority granted under the National Emergencies Act for matters of which Congress would have supported, but could not do so quickly enough,” Sensenbrenner explained in a statement after the vote. “They did not invoke the authority to subvert the will of Congress.”

Gallagher indicated his support for such a resolution the day Trump made his declaration by warning his fellow conservatives about the precedent being set. “{T}hey will not like it when a future Democratic president declares a national climate emergency to seize airplanes and farting cows,” Gallagher wrote on social media.

Sensenbrenner echoed that concern in his statement. “This national emergency declaration does not fall within that broad category, and if gone unchallenged, sets a dangerous precedent which will undoubtedly be exploited by future administrations,” Sensenbrenner said.

The resolution passed 245 to 182. Every Democrat present voted for the resolution along with 13 Republicans. Among the Wisconsin House delegation, all of the Democrats voted as expected for the resolution while Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI07), Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI01) and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI06) voted against.

Steil, the newest member of the House delegation from Wisconsin, explained his vote opposing the resolution by stating that the declaration by Trump was legal. “Federal law allows the president to allocate appropriated military construction funding to address this national emergency,” Steil explained in a statement after the vote. “Because this action is allowed under current law, and because I believe we need to properly fund our border security needs, I voted against the resolution.”

The “state of emergency” declaration by Trump would allow the president to re-allocate $8.1 billion in federal spending towards building a permanent barrier along the Mexican border. The reallocated funding for border security includes $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense allocated for Support for Counterdrug Activities and $3.6 billion allocated for Department of Defense military construction projects.

The House resolution now goes to the Senate. The resolution cannot be filibustered, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the vote will take place before March 18. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has indicated sympathy for the resolution’s intent but was undecided on how he will vote.

 

The complete statements from Sensenbrenner and Steil are below:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05)

It is a principal role of the federal government to protect the American people, and, to that end, I support securing the southern border with a physical barrier. A wall, fence, or other barrier is vital to confront the scourge of violent gang members, drugs, and human trafficking ravaging communities across the country.

Democrats’ refusal to provide the necessary funds requested by the Department of Homeland Security is a dereliction of this constitutional duty, and I share the President’s frustration and disappointment with the recent funding bill’s failure to address these needs.

More funding is required. However, where that money comes from matters for the integrity of government.

Our Founding Fathers organized three co-equal branches of government, and Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse. The debate surrounding our southern border has been at the forefront of Congress for months, and insufficient action—however frustrating it may be—is still the prerogative of the legislative branch. It is imperative that no administration, Republican or Democratic, circumvent the will of Congress.

Previous presidents have used the authority granted under the National Emergencies Act for matters of which Congress would have supported, but could not do so quickly enough. They did not invoke the authority to subvert the will of Congress. For example, President Carter issued a declaration during the Iran hostage crisis freezing Iranian assets held within the United States.

This national emergency declaration does not fall within that broad category, and if gone unchallenged, sets a dangerous precedent which will undoubtedly be exploited by future administrations. Despite my opposition to the use of an emergency declaration in this situation, I do support the undying goal of securing our border with a physical barrier and urge my colleagues to reconsider additional funding, appropriated from Congress, to meet the needs of our border patrol agents.

Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI01)

Our legislative process is broken. I’m frustrated we got to this point in the first place. Under current law, the president has broad authority to declare national emergencies. The National Emergencies Act of 1976 gave the president the authority to declare a national emergency in a wide variety of situations, which includes securing our border. Federal law allows the president to allocate appropriated military construction funding to address this national emergency. Because this action is allowed under current law, and because I believe we need to properly fund our border security needs, I voted against the resolution. Going forward, Congress must work together. I am focused on improving the National Emergencies Act to better involve Congress in future funding decisions.