Washington Democrats, Republicans unite against Trump's national emergency

SEATTLE -- In a rare reach across the aisle, both Democrats and Republicans in Washington state are speaking out against President Donald Trump's plan to declare a national emergency to secure funding to construct a border wall.

Both U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-3rd District, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5th District, warned against setting a "dangerous precedent" and circumventing Congress.

"An emergency declaration would set a dangerous precedent," Herrera Beutler said in a statement. "Some conservatives may cheer today, but someday it's likely that the shoe will be on the other foot, and a liberal president would have the power to disregard Congress, declare an emergency, and enact whatever policy she sees fit."

McMorris Rodgers echoed those sentiments in a statement, saying the move would undermine the constitutional separation of powers.

"By circumventing Congress and Article I of the Constitution, President Trump is opening the door for any future president to act alone without Congressional approval," she said. "If elected president, how would Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders use this precedent for a national disaster declaration to force the Green New Deal on the American people?"

The White House has signaled the president's intention to take executive action, including declaring a national emergency, to deliver on his campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border after failing to secure the necessary funds from Congress.

Freshman Rep. Kim Schrier, D-8th District, said over the phone that she believes the president is circumventing Congress with this action and thinks an emergency declaration classification does not apply for the border.

"The women and children who are seeking asylum in this country are not a national emergency, and to portray them in that way is inflammatory and unfair; we should be treating refugees with dignity and with respect," she said. "This sounds like a waste of our resources and potentially really compromising our national security by diverting funds from our military."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-7th District, vowed to hold the president accountable if he goes "around Congress to build a wall or increase immigration detention and enforcement, by declaring a 'national emergency,' transferring funds or any other measure."

Washington's Office of the Attorney General is considering a lawsuit and will be paying close attention to any diverted funds that may affect operations in Washington. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the president would be exceeding his authority and violating the Constitution.

"Declaring a state of 'emergency' to build his wall is unlawful," he said in a statement. "We are working with members of our congressional delegation to determine if this action depletes federal funds flowing into Washington. If Washington is harmed, my office will take appropriate steps to block this unlawful action, just as we've blocked more than a dozen illegal and unconstitutional policies of this president."

Ferguson has sued the Trump administration dozens of times and has yet to lose a case.

Over the phone, his solicitor general, Noah Purcell, explained the decision to consider another lawsuit.

"It's not that we're just trying to score political points or something," Purcell said. "This is a real harm to real needs in Washington, with money being diverted from military and flood control projects here that are important, and that's our concern."

Other states, like California, would also likely file lawsuits if the president goes through with an emergency declaration.

"Our government is a system of checks and balances, and declaring an emergency in such a situation would undermine that system in a way that even those of us who support strong border security may later deeply regret," Herrera Beutler said. "I do not support the president using national emergency declaration to redirect funds toward the border that were already appropriated for other purposes by Congress. If President Obama had ever hinted at using emergency powers in this way I would have spoken out strongly against it, and consistency demands that I do the same now."