Maine: Recent votes in the US Senate by Susan Collins and Angus King.

(Notice how they both voted against the Green New Deal, and for National Emergency measures.)

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Susan Collins

National Key Votes

Date Bill No. Bill Title Outcome Vote
April 11, 2019 PN 503 Confirmation of David Bernhardt as the Secretary of the Interior Senate Yea
March 26, 2019 S J Res 8 A joint resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal Cloture Invoked – Senate Nay
March 14, 2019 H J Res 46 Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 Bill Passed – Senate
(59 – 41)
Yea
March 13, 2019 S J Res 7 A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress Bill Passed – Senate
(54 – 46)
Yea

Angus King

National Key Votes

Date Bill No. Bill Title Outcome Vote
April 11, 2019 PN 503 Confirmation of David Bernhardt as the Secretary of the Interior Senate Yea
March 26, 2019 S J Res 8 A joint resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal Cloture Invoked – Senate Nay
March 14, 2019 H J Res 46 Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 Bill Passed – Senate
(59 – 41)
Yea
March 13, 2019 S J Res 7 A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress Bill Passed – Senate
(54 – 46)
Yea
Feb. 28, 2019 PN 22 Nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency Senate
(52 – 47)
Nay

Trump demands high-speed rail funds back from California in retribution for National Emergency Lawsuit

Trump gestures after speaking on border security at the Rose Garden
Mr Trump has frequently been at-odds with the more liberal state (which still denies felons their right to vote. How liberal is that?)

President Donald Trump has continued to escalate tensions with California by calling on the state to return billions in federal funds for a high-speed rail.

His administration plans on cancelling $929m (£711m) in grants for what Mr Trump has called a “failed” project.

These federal funds account for a quarter of the California rail project.

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom called it “political retribution” for the California-led lawsuit against Mr Trump’s national emergency declaration.

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it is looking into cancelling the $929m grant as well as recovering a $2.5bn grant already being spent by the state.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump again lambasted the state over the project, saying: “Send the Federal Government back the Billions of Dollars WASTED!”

All but one of the states involved are governed by Democrats.

Presentational grey line

Trump v California

Analysis box by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

The battle between Donald Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom, carried out in speeches, tweets and legal filings, now includes a hefty price tag. The US government has spent billions helping construct a high-speed rail line in California. Now, after cost overruns and cutbacks in the scope of the ambitious project, the president wants the federal money back.

That may be difficult to pull off – and will surely face an extended court battle – but that’s not the point. Mr Newsom is fighting the president over emergency funding for the border wall, so the Trump administration is going after the state’s rail funding.

Tit for tat.

This latest drama puts the conflict between the conservative White House and the most prosperous and populous state in the nation, one fully controlled by Democrats, in stark relief.

California’s leaders have offered their state as a “counter-proposal” to Trump’s America – a demonstration that progressive policies and regulations can go hand-in-hand with economic growth and well-being. It’s the antithesis of the Trumpist view that restrained regulation and limited government involvement open the path to success.

It’s a battle over ideology and principles – a civil war conducted in courts and the court of public opinion.

Presentational grey line

Following the news of the lawsuit, Mr Trump had slammed Democrats, “the radical left”, the 9th Circuit courts, and taunted California over the rail project.

“This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

What’s the current rail situation?

California’s initial plans, approved in 2008, involved a high-speed rail linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with an estimated cost of $77bn.

Then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inspects bullet trains in Japan in 2010 as inspiration for California's own train updatesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThen-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inspects bullet trains in Japan in 2010 as inspiration for California’s own train updates

Since then, overrunning costs and delays have plagued the project and in his state address last week, Gov Newsom said they would be scaling the project down and focusing on connecting regions in the Central Valley for now.

At the time, Mr Trump attacked the project, saying the state owed the government $3.5bn for the “green disaster”. On Tuesday, his administration took steps towards collecting those funds.

Gov Newsom hit back by saying Mr Trump’s claims were “fake news”.

Presentational white space
In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Fresno River Viaduct seen between Raymond Road and Watson StreetConstruction has begun on parts of the rail system

Can Trump take back the funds?

California and the federal government signed an agreement in 2010 over this funding.

Per the agreement, the federal government is allowed to take the money back if the state does not make “adequate progress” or “fails to complete the project or one of its tasks” or if the state cannot meet the funding-match requisite, CNBC reported.

California has not yet met the $2.5bn funding match, and so it has not been able to use the $929m.

Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory said in a letter on Tuesday to the state’s rail authority that California has “materially failed to comply with the terms of the agreement”.

The letter cited the governor’s altered plans for the system along with California’s inability to match the federal funds as grounds for terminating the award.

California’s rail authority has not yet responded to the letter.

Art Bauer, a California Senate Transportation Committee staffer, told the Los Angeles Times he could not recall any precedent for such an action, but that “the governor unwittingly gave the federal government a reason to back away from the project”.

Mexico border wall: US states sue over emergency declaration

Breaking News image

A coalition of 16 US states led by California is suing President Donald Trump’s administration over his decision to declare an emergency to raise funds for a Mexican border wall.

The lawsuit was filed in the court for the Northern District of California.

It comes days after Mr Trump invoked emergency powers to bypass Congress and secure funding for the project – a key campaign pledge.

Democrats have vowed to contest it “using every remedy available”.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said they were taking President Trump to court “to block his misuse of presidential power”.

“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the office of the presidency is not a place for theatre,” he added.

‘Fake’: Thousands rally in US against Trump’s national emergency

More than 250 rallies held across the US to decry Trump’s national emergency declaration to build the border wall.

People gather to protest against Trump's declaration of a national emergency at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]
People gather to protest against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Washington, DC – Thousands of people rallied nationwide on Monday to protest against the national emergency US President Donald Trump declared last week to help fund his long-promised wall across the US-Mexico border.

More than 250 rallies were organised across the United States on President’s Day, a US government holiday, with protesters carrying banners and placards that called the national emergency “fake”.

“I do think we have a national emergency in this country, this is an emergency to our democratic system,” Angelina Huynh, who joined the rally in Washington, DC, outside the White House with her two preschool children, told Al Jazeera.

As the snow fell in Boston, Massachusetts, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley took to the stage to speak against Trump’s bid to bypass Congress and help free up $8bn in funds for his wall, which was one of his biggest 2016 campaign promises.

Protesters and civil rights organisations called on Congress to take action against Trump’s latest move.

“Thank you other cities & states filing lawsuits! No better way to spend Presidents’ Day than rallying to stop this crazy President [with] his fake emergency to build a wall!” tweeted Congresswoman Maxine Waters before a rally in Los Angeles, California.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Daniel Altschuler@altochulo

“Come for one, face us ALL!”

Immigrants, Muslim, Black and LGBTQ folks, and white allies standing united outside the White House and Trump’s .

Our solidarity is .

Trump declared the national emergency after Democrats refused to cave in to his demand of more than $5bn in funding for the wall. That demand led to the longest government shutdown of its kind late last year and into 2019.

The shutdown ended in late January when Trump, his fellow Republicans and Democrats agreed to temporarily fund the government while talks on border security continued.

Racing against the clock, Democratic and Republican negotiators came to an agreement last week to keep the government open. The deal did not include funds for Trump’s wall but did include about $1.37bn in funding for physical barriers.

Trump agreed to sign the legislation, but also announced he was declaring a national emergency over the border, drawing immediate challenges from Democrats and rights groups.

The president maintains that a wall is needed to stem irregular immigration and the flow of illicit drugs into the country. But statistics show that irregular immigration has been on the decline for decades and most illegal drugs enter the US through official ports of entry.

Angelina Huynh joins a rally in Washington, DC, against Trump’s national emergency deceleration with her two children on February 18, 2019. [Ola Salem/Al Jazeera]

‘How many people are angry?’

Activists and civil rights organisations were joined at rallies on Monday by those affected by Trump’s policies over the past two years since he took office, including those affected by the ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries, the crackdown on undocumented immigration and child separations at the border.

“I have a question, how many people are angry?” a speaker called out to hundreds of protesters at noon in Lafayette Park in the US capital. “How many people are sick and tired of being sick and tired?” the crowd was asked as they cheered in response.

Jo Hannah from Texas visited the border in 2017 and said she saw no emergency. Instead, she saw a plan that would devastate wildlife in the area and a plan that could tear down a wildlife centre in San Antonio.

“Around 10,000 monarch butterflies breed in this centre every year, and they are going to tear this centre for the wall,” she said to Al Jazeera from the Washington, DC rally.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Deborah Rosenman@drosenman

Check out all the people at the against the and his racist agenda. Congress must act now! @MoveOn

Legal challenges

Since Trump’s announcement on Friday, several Democrats said they would challenge the declaration that would help Trump override Congress’ purse power.

Cheers erupted outside the White House as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a crowd that the civil rights group was preparing to sue Trump for declaring a national emergency.

So far, three Texas landowners and an environmental group have filed the first lawsuit challenging Trump, the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told local media that he planned to file a suit as well. In an interview, he said the suit was “definitely and imminently” coming.

New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut are among several states joining the lawsuit, local media reported, quoting the attorney general’s office.

Protesters outside the White House rally against Trump’s national emergency deceleration on February 18, 2019. [Ola Salem/Al Jazeera]

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Texas landowners file lawsuit against Trump’s national emergency

The lawsuit, filed in a DC federal court, is another challenge to the construction of Trump’s long-promised border wall.Texas residents claim in the lawsuit that the government's wall plan will divide their land [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]Texas residents claim in the lawsuit that the government’s wall plan will divide their land [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group have filed the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at freeing up billions of dollars to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, consumer advocacy group Public Citizen (PC) has said.

The lawsuit, brought in federal court in the District of Columbia on Friday, claims the south Texas landowners were told by the US government that it would seek to build a border wall on their properties if money for the project was available in 2019, according to a press release from PC.

“Words have meaning,” Allison Zieve, Public Citizen’s counsel for the plaintiffs, said in the release. “The facts make clear that the premise of the president’s declaration – that the absence of a wall in the areas where construction is planned is an ’emergency’ – is legally untenable and an impermissible basis for seeking to obligate funds that Congress has refused to appropriate for a border wall.”

Three of the plaintiffs on the lawsuit are private citizens in Texas’s Starr County, which was home to roughly 65,000 people in 2017.

The fourth plaintiff is the Frontera Audobon Society, a six-hectare nonprofit that acts as a “haven for birds, butterflies and other wildlife”.

All the plaintiffs claim the wall would deny them access to their land.

Trump declared a national emergency on Friday after Congress passed a spending deal to keep the government open that did not include funding for a border wall.

A national emergency, if not blocked by the courts or Congress, would allow Trump to dip into funds politicians had approved for other purposes to build a border wall.

Further challenges

Democrats and some rights groups have announced plans to challenge the emergency declaration.

The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, wrote a letter to the White House on Friday asking the president to make available relevant White House and Justice Department officials.

They further requested legal documents related to the declaration, placing a deadline of next Friday on their delivery.

“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system,” Nadler wrote in the letter.

The Americans Civil Liberties Union also announced on Friday they are suing Trumpover the emergency declaration, calling it “blatantly illegal”.

ACLU

@ACLU

BREAKING: We’re suing President Trump over today’s blatantly illegal declaration of a national emergency.

There is no emergency. This is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities. We’ll see him in court.

The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: whether the president can declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’s refusal to give him all the money he wanted; and whether federal law allows the Defense Department to take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction.

The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.

Trump claims the US-Mexico border is porous, facilitating the trafficking of narcotics and humans. Building a wall along the border was a key part of his platform during the 2016 presidential election.

Critics say most trafficking occurs in ports of entry and not the border.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Mexico border wall: Trump faces fight in the courts

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President Trump faces legal challenges to his decision to use emergency powers to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.

California and New York said they would take legal action to challenge his move to bypass Congress and secure funding for the project.

Building the wall was a key pledge of Mr Trump’s campaign.

Democrats said it was a “gross abuse of power” and vowed to contest it “using every remedy available”.

On Friday, Mr Trump signed the emergency declaration along with a spending bill aimed at preventing a repeat of a recent government shutdown.

Declaring an emergency could give him access to billions of dollars. Mr Trump announced the plan after Congress refused funding for the wall.

Within hours, the first legal challenge against the declaration of national emergency was launched.

A liberal advocacy group, Public Citizen, sued on behalf of a nature reserve and three Texas landowners who have been told the wall may be constructed on their properties.

How have Democrats responded?

Governor Gavin Newsom of California dismissed the president’s decision as “political theatre”.

“He’s been embarrassed, and his base needs to be fed,” he told reporters.

“Fortunately, Donald Trump is not the last word. The courts will be the last word,” he added.

New York state’s Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, said the state would not “stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

Activist group Rise And Resist in New York City put out a call for a demonstration at the Trump Hotel in Columbus CircleDemocrats have described the national emergency as “made up”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it would file a lawsuit in the coming days to curb “this blatantly illegal executive action”.

On Friday the two most senior Democrats – House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer – said they would challenge the “power grab by a disappointed president” in Congress and in the courts.

Ms Pelosi also seized on a remark by Mr Trump in response to a question from a reporter, in which he said he “didn’t need to do this”.

Analysts suggest that this remark could undermine Mr Trump’s case that the country is facing an emergency.

What did Mr Trump say?

Making the announcement in the White House Rose Garden, the president said the emergency would allow him to get almost $8bn for the wall.

This is still considerably short of the estimated $23bn cost of the wall along almost 2,000 miles (3,200km) of border.

Mr Trump accepted that he would be sued for the move, and predicted that the emergency order would lead to legal action which was likely to end up in the Supreme Court.

Senator McConnell supports the president; Speaker Pelosi warns it sets a dangerous precedent

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border,” he said.

“Everyone knows that walls work.”

Later, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that Mr Trump’s move “creates zero precedent”.

“This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he just didn’t get what he wanted so he’s waving a magic wand and taking a bunch of money,” he said.

Presentational grey line

Dangerous precedent

By Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor

The trouble with going nuclear is there is fall-out. This has been presented as a predictably partisan issue.

On one side of the wall, Republicans; on the other side Democrats. But by going nuclear the president has made it more complicated than that. There are a lot of Republicans – in the Senate and in the House – deeply uneasy about what Mr Trump is doing.

Why? Because the constitutional arrangement of the US is that Congress – not the president – controls the purse strings and allocates funds.

This is a major land grab by the president. It undermines their position and sets a very dangerous precedent.

Presentational grey line

Can Congress stop Trump’s emergency move?

The National Emergencies Act contains a clause that allows Congress to terminate the emergency status if both houses vote for it – and the president does not veto.

With a comfortable majority in the House, Democrats could pass such a resolution to the Senate. The Republicans control the Senate, but a number of Republican senators have been vocal in their unease about the president invoking a national emergency.

Chart: Apprehensions on the US-Mexico border were at their lowest in 2017 since 2000

The dissenting Republicans include 2012 presidential contender and new senator for Utah Mitt Romney, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and the senator from Maine Susan Collins, who said the move was of “dubious constitutionality”.

The resolution would however still require Mr Trump’s signature to pass, allowing him to veto it. A supermajority in both houses of Congress is needed to overturn a presidential veto.

What is a national emergency?

The National Emergencies Act is intended for times of national crisis. Mr Trump has claimed that there is a migration crisis at the nation’s southern border – a claim strongly refuted by migration experts.

The largest number of illegal migrants settling in the US each year is those who stay in the country after their visas expire.

Declaring a national emergency would give the president access to special powers that effectively allow him to bypass the usual political process, and he would be able to divert money from existing military or disaster relief budgets to pay for the wall.

Chart: There are 31 ongoing national emergencies

Emergency declarations by previous presidents have been overwhelmingly used for addressing foreign policy crises – including blocking terrorism-linked entities from accessing funds or prohibiting investment in nations associated with human rights abuses.

Where will the money come from?

On Friday, Mr Mulvaney said the $8bn would be made up of:

  • $1.4bn from the agreed budget
  • $600m from cash and assets seized from drug traffickers
  • $2.5bn from a defence department anti-drug trafficking fund
  • $3.5bn reallocated from military construction projects

The latter is the biggest amount and the relevant statute allows a president to divert funds for projects that “require use of the armed forces”. This is almost certain to bring a legal challenge.

A congressional aide told ABC News projects that could be cancelled include constructions at Guantanamo Bay, a military school in Japan and special forces facilities in North Carolina.

Poor living conditions for military families have become a concern but a Pentagon spokesman, Bill Speaks, insisted “military family-housing projects will not be affected”.

Trump officials also said that projects affecting force-readiness would not be compromised.

Mr Trump said military officials had told him the wall was more important and that what he was told would be cut “didn’t sound too important to me”.

Democrats, groups seek to challenge Trump’s emergency declaration

Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall faces uncertain future as groups plan legal challenges.Trump declares a national emergency at the US-Mexico border during remarks about border security in the Rose Garden [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
Trump declares a national emergency at the US-Mexico border during remarks about border security in the Rose Garden [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Democrats and rights groups have vowed to fight US President Donald Trump‘s emergency declaration along the southern border, saying it’s an unconstitutional attempt to fund a wall without approval from Congress.

A key committee in the US House of Representatives announced on Friday it was launching an immediate investigation into President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, saying the move to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border raised constitutional and statutory issues.

In a letter to Trump, Democrats who control the House Judiciary Committee asked the Republican president to make available relevant White House and Justice Department officials.

They also requested legal documents on the decision that led to the declaration, setting a deadline of next Friday.

“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system,” said the letter signed by committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats on the panel.

Trump declares a national emergency to build border wall

Trump declared a national emergency on Friday after Congress passed a spending deal to keep the government open that did not include funding for a border wall.

A national emergency, if not blocked by the courts or Congress, would allow Trump to dip into funds politicians had approved for other purposes to build a border wall.

‘We’ll use every remedy available’

But the top two Democrats in Congress said they will use “every remedy available” to oppose Trump’s declaration.

What is a national emergency? Can Trump declare one for the wall?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday that they will take action “in the Congress, in the courts and in the public”.

They called Trump’s declaration unlawful, adding that it would “shred the Constitution” by usurping Congress’s power to control spending.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced its intention to sue less than an hour after the White House released the text of Trump’s declaration that the “current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency”.

ACLU

@ACLU

BREAKING: We’re suing President Trump over today’s blatantly illegal declaration of a national emergency.

There is no emergency. This is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities. We’ll see him in court.

The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: whether the president can declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’s refusal to give him all the money he wanted; and whether federal law allows the Defense Department to take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction.

The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.

National Emergencies Act of 1976

Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which Congress adopted as a way to put some limits on presidential use of national emergencies. The act requires a president to notify Congress publicly of the national emergency and to report every six months.

The law also says the president must renew the emergency every year, simply by notifying Congress. The House and Senate also can revoke a declaration by majority vote, though it would take a two-thirds vote by each house to override an expected presidential veto.

The US gov’t may be open again, but fears remain for contractors

Beyond that, though, the law doesn’t say what constitutes a national emergency or impose any other limits on the president.

The discretion afforded to the president could make it hard to persuade courts to rule that Trump exceeded his authority in declaring a border emergency.

“He’s the one who gets to make the call. We can’t second-guess it,” said John Eastman, a professor of constitutional law at the Chapman University School of Law.

Courts often are reluctant to look beyond the justifications the president included in his proclamation, Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane said on a call organised by the liberal American Constitution Society.

But other legal experts said the facts are powerfully arrayed against the president. They include government statistics showing a decades-long decline in irregular border crossings as well as Trump’s rejection of a deal last year that would have provided more than the nearly $1.4bn he got for border security in the budget agreement he signed Thursday.

Opponents of the declaration also are certain to use Trump’s own words at his Rose Garden news conference Friday to argue that there is no emergency on the border.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said Trump’s remarks are an admission that there is no national emergency. “He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress,” Romero said in a statement that also said the rights group would file a lawsuit next week.

Beyond the challenge to Trump’s authority to declare an emergency, lawsuits also are expected to focus on the military construction project law that allows the re-allocation of money in a national emergency.

As Trump wages political war over border, activists fight back

Eastman said he doubts that the Supreme Court would try to interfere with Trump’s decision to send the military to the border and then authorise the use of money from other Defense Department construction projects to build miles of a border wall.

“The president is authorized to make those judgments, not some judge in San Francisco,” Eastman said.

But the ACLU’s suit will argue that Congress allowed for flexibility in using money it appropriated for projects needed to support the emergency use of the military forces, like overseas military airfields in wartime.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES