Sen. Susan Collins questioned the wisdom and constitutionality of President Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency to build a $5.7 billion wall on the southern border, joining a chorus of criticism from Maine’s congressional delegation.

“Such a declaration would undermine the role of Congress and the appropriations process,” the moderate Republican said in a statement Thursday. “It’s just not good policy. It also sets a bad precedent for future presidents – both Democratic and Republican – who might seek to use this same maneuver to circumvent Congress to advance their policy goals.

“It is also of dubious constitutionality, and it will almost certainly be challenged in the courts.”

The other members of Maine’s congressional delegation – Sen. Angus King, an independent, and Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden – also issued statements condemning the plan soon after the White House announced it.

The move by the White House came after a compromise on border and immigration enforcement gave Trump just a fraction of the money he wanted for his border wall. The White House said the president would sign the bill and then declare a national emergency to try to shift money to wall-building from elsewhere in the federal budget.

The bill passed the Senate, 83-16, in the afternoon and the House, 300-128, Thursday night.

Collins, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, said the bipartisan agreement funds the government through Sept. 30 and avoids “another harmful government shutdown.”

She wasn’t the only Republicans to cast doubt on Trump’s plan.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted there is a crisis on the southern border, but added, “no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.” And Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tweeted that he is “disappointed” with the president’s intentions.

King, who caucuses with Democrats and voted for the spending bill, decried the president’s intention, saying that any attempt by the president to circumvent the nation’s system of checks and balances should be challenged in court.

“As to the news that the president is planning to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall even as his own Department of Homeland Security reports that illegal border crossings are declining: this is not what the Framers of the Constitution intended when they separated powers between the executive and the Congress, and explicitly assigned spending powers to the Congress,” King said in a statement.

“This is antithetical to our American system of government, and I hope and expect that any move by the president to circumvent Congress will be quickly challenged in court.”

Pingree and Golden both ripped Trump in separate statements.

Pingree said such the plan to declare a national emergency is being driven by Trump’s “broken campaign promise.”

“It is an abuse of power for President Trump to declare a national emergency because he failed to fulfill his campaign promise of Mexico paying for his multi-billion dollar border boondoggle,” Maine’s 1st-District congresswoman said. “If President Trump cares about border security, he will continue to work with Congress through the fiscal year 2020 budget process.”

Golden, who recently replaced Republican Bruce Poliquin as Maine’s 2nd District congressman, said he remains committed to strengthening the border and keeping the government open.

“Democrats and Republicans have developed a compromise plan that achieves both those goals. That’s how our government is supposed to work,” Golden said.

Collins said any attempt by the president to declare a national emergency would be a “mistake,” explaining that the National Emergencies Act was intended to be used to fund major natural disasters or catastrophic events, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“A far better approach would be for the president to submit a timely budget request for additional border security funding and work with Congress through the normal appropriations process,” Collins said.

Golden said the president would be making a mistake if he declared a national emergency.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” Golden said. “The president is wrong to use his authority to declare a national emergency. The sky is not falling and most Americans don’t buy his empty rhetoric.”


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