A federal judge on Monday rejected an attempt by the Democrat-led House to bar President Donald Trump from spending $6.1 billion in unappropriated funds to build a border wall.
In a 24-page opinion, D.C.-based District Court Judge Trevor McFadden said that the court lacked authority to resolve a funding dispute between the executive and legislative branches.
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“While the Constitution bestows upon members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the executive branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority,” McFadden wrote.
The ruling deals a momentary victory to Trump. A separate Oakland-based federal judge in late May issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the transfer of roughly $1 billion in Defense Department counter-drug funding to cover expansions and enhancement of border barriers.
Trump declared a national emergency in February as part of a strategy to access $6.7 billion to build a border wall after Congress turned down a similar request. Democrats blasted the move, and House leaders challenged it in federal court – one of several lawsuits targeting the emergency.
The House argued that the White House violated the Constitution and federal regulatory law when it sought to transfer roughly $6.1 billion based on authority outlined in two federal statutes related to counter-drug and military construction funds.
The legislative body did not challenge the transfer of $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund toward wall construction.
In the ruling Monday, McFadden – a Trump nominee confirmed by the Senate in 2017 – said in the opinion that the legislative branch can use the appropriations process to respond to executive actions without assistance from the courts.
“Congress has several political arrows in its quiver to counter perceived threats to its sphere of power,” he wrote. “These tools show that this lawsuit is not a last resort for the House.”
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