Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

NEWS CHANNEL 5: TN lawmakers respond to President Trump’s decision to declare a “national emergency”

February 16, 2019
In The News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee lawmakers are responding to President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency at the border. This move will allow for more federal money for the wall at the U.S. Mexico border.

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) said he does not believe that the President's declaration is supported by the facts. He went on to say that "Apprehensions at the border have been declining for the last 18years and the drugs that enter our country mainly come through established ports of entry, not remote border crossings."

“The larger issue is the Constitution. Congress just last night established how much it is willing to spend on border security and what it is willing to spend it on. Funding for a wall was not appropriated. The Constitution gives the power of the purse to Congress only, and the President’s plan to raid the military or disaster budget would be a dangerous precedent. This will not be tolerated by Congress which is why I will be a cosponsor of Congressman Castro’s resolution to terminate the President’s emergency declaration and a bill to prevent President Trump from diverting disaster-recovery funds from Army Corps civil works projects to build his border wall.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) stated:

“The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. It is unnecessary because significant additional money already has been approved by Congress that he could spend on border security without declaring a national emergency. In fact, the president announced today that he would spend $3 billion of this additional funding to fund construction of the border wall. This $3 billion is in addition to the $22 billion Congress appropriated on Thursday for detention beds, technology, border patrol agents, ports of entry, replacing existing wall and 55 miles of new wall.

“It is unwise because if this president can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next president can declare a national emergency to tear it down; or declare a climate change emergency to close coal plants and build wind turbines; or a health care emergency and force into Medicare the 180 million Americans with health insurance on the job.

“It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.”

Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) said the following:

"No president in modern American history has used emergency powers the way Trump is doing. This is presidential overreach of his constitutional responsibilities. It’s certain to be heard in the courts and certainly struck down."

While the majority of lawmakers seemed to disagree with the President's choice, Representative Mark Green (TN-07) released the following statement:

“Seeing as the spending package falls short of what experts at DHS have told us is the minimum amount of emergency resources to address the crisis at our southern border... I support the president taking legal executive action by declaring a national emergency to end the crisis caused by our unsecure southern border.”

In addition, Congressman Scott Desjarlais said:

“Sophisticated international cartels, some of the most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations in the world, are operating just across the border from the United States in Mexico. They partner with foreign adversaries, including Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and China, and smuggle drugs as well as human beings into our neighborhoods, including in my home state of Tennessee. Constituents in my district are suffering from the opioid epidemic. Mexican cartels produce or distribute most heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine here, killing tens of thousands of Americans every year, not including victims of MS-13 and other violent gangs, which have infiltrated recent migrant caravans. However, the equivalent of a migrant caravan enters our country almost weekly. These forces are destabilizing and deadly to people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, but particularly for the less fortunate among us. While wealthy elites erect walls for protection, poor- and working-class citizens must live with the consequences of insecure borders and years of congressional inaction. Unfortunately, Congress has largely abdicated its responsibility, placing the onus on President Trump to fulfill the federal government’s most important constitutional duty: national security.

“Under legal authority Congress has granted the executive, which Barack Obama also used to combat Mexican cartels, the President has the power to declare a national emergency, in order to fund the construction of new border barriers at dangerous weak points. As a fiscal conservative, constitutionalist, and strong advocate for the military, I believe the need is clear and pressing, the law supports immediate action, and ample funding exists to address this crisis.”