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Democrats push back against President’s emergency declaration

MOLINE, Illinois -- When President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the Southern border last Friday, he said, he "didn't need to do this."

Democrats have seized on that statement in their fight against the President's declaration, which they say amounts to constitutional overreach.

"I think attempting to fulfill a promise by doing a workaround and a possible violation of the U.S. Constitution just so you can put it on a bumper sticker is not a way to go," said Representative Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois.

"This is something unprecedented in our history, for a president to declare an emergency that he himself admits is not an emergency," she added.

Keith Boeckelman, chair of the political science department at Western Illlinois University says the courts may have to decide on whether President Trump has overstepped his authority: "Is he essentially appropriating money, which is Congress’s responsibility under the constitution?"

But Boeckelman says the move might have served the President politically, at least for the time being.

"Politically he has made a statement with the people who support the wall that I’m trying to get this done and now it’s in the hands of the courts," he says.

The White House says President Trump plans to divert money from the Defense and the Treasury Departments towards his border wall construction.

"That’s what he’s talking about, ripping money away from programs like we would have at the Rock Island Arsenal, or Peoria," Representative Bustos said. "We worked very hard to get federal funding to build a new firehouse that they desperately need. That is at risk of having money being yanked away."

Republican lawmakers are also hesitant to give the president the power of the purse.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley in a statement said, "I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds. Accordingly, I will study the President’s declaration closely."

For now Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate are working on ways to block the President's declaration.

Journalist Martha Raddatz on ABC "This Week" asked Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth if there were enough votes in the Senate to put a joint resolution blocking it on the president's desk.

"I think we do," Senator Duckworth responded.

"Now, whether we have enough for an overriding veto, that's a different story. But frankly I think there's enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he's doing is robbing from the military and the DOD to build this wall," she added.

The White House has said that President Trump will veto any measures to block is declaration of a national emergency.

Seven states and advocacy groups such as the ACLU have announced lawsuits to stop his declaration.

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