February 04, 2019

Cortez Masto, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Prevent President Using Emergency Declaration to Raid Funds for Border Wall

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Senate Democratic colleagues to introduce the Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations (RAIDER) Act of 2019. The legislation prevents the president from utilizing the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to raid critical military construction and disaster response funds to construct his wall along the southern border.

“President Trump shouldn’t be raiding essential funding from Americans recovering from natural disasters, or from our critical military infrastructure to pay for his vanity project,” said Cortez Masto. “Senate Democrats have already voted for bipartisan legislation that prioritizes effective border security. This, and any future President, shouldn’t be using politics to manufacture a crisis and take funds from critical programs that serve Americans.”

“After the Trump shutdown, it’s clear that President Trump will stop at nothing to try to build a wasteful, ineffective, and offensive wall that New Mexicans and the American people reject,” Udall said. “While declaring a national emergency to raid funds to build the wall would almost certainly be challenged in court, Congress should not wait for the courts to act. We must stand up and assert our role as a co-equal branch of government, and we must prevent the president from going around Congress to raid critical funds – funds we have appropriated for disaster recovery, flood protection, and military base construction projects – for a politically-motivated, unjustified national emergency declaration that isn’t based in reality.”

“We cannot allow President Trump to raid taxpayer dollars to pay for a wall that New Mexicans don’t want or need,” said Heinrich. “With this legislation, we can prevent funds designated for critical military construction and disaster response from being raided for a wasteful border wall under the false pretense of a national emergency.”

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto, Udall and Heinrich (D-N.M.), U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also cosponsored this bill.


Before, during, and after the Trump shutdown, President Trump has repeatedly threatened to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and finance construction of his border wall, and recent press reports indicate a declaration is being drafted in the White House. Under the National Emergencies Act, the funds most at risk of being misdirected to build the president’s wall are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) civil works funds and Military Construction (Milcon) funding. President Trump is threatening to take funds from critical disaster recovery, flood protection, and military base construction projects in states across the country.

The RAIDER ACT would bar the transfer of any funding from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or Military Construction accounts for construction, land acquisition or other activities related to President Trump’s border wall following any potential emergency declaration, unless Congress granted specific authority to do so. While the administration has not released precise figures, some estimates indicate there could be as much as $35 billion in congressionally appropriated but yet unobligated funding for DOD military construction projects and Army Corps disaster funds at risk from an emergency declaration move.

A recent Monmouth University poll found that 64 percent of Americans oppose the president using an emergency declaration to build the wall, including 66 percent of independents, while only 34 percent support it. A recent CBS News poll found that “66 percent of Americans overall say President Trump should not declare a national emergency if Congress does not fund a border wall.”