‘Congress has several political arrows in its quiver to counter perceived threats to its sphere of power…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A federal district court judge appointed by President Donald Trump ruled Thursday that two lawsuits aimed at blocking funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall can proceed, Politico reported.
Last year, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, an omnibus spending bill.
U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden said language from the bill indicates that Congress wanted to protect the environment near the border.
“The Court concludes that the CAA may indeed embrace the conservationist interests that Plaintiffs seek to protect,” McFadden wrote in a 59-page decision.
The plaintiffs, including a Texas Indian tribe, argue that Trump cannot use billions of dollars in surplus funds to construct portions of the southern border wall because the development would violate Congress’s environmental mandates.
After Congress appropriated only $1.3 billion for the border wall last year, Trump declared a national emergency and scraped together $6.7 billion from other funds to build the wall.
U.S. Code regulating the Pentagon’s military support for civilian law enforcement specifically permits the construction of fencing for the purpose of preventing drug-smuggling.
But Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has claimed that the so-called wall—which is, in fact, a large fence—is “rooted in xenophobia and racism.”
Although McFadden let the two civilian lawsuits move forward, he blocked the House’s lawsuit due to lack of standing.
“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 in a decision last June.
McFadden said the House could simply appropriate the money for a specific purpose so that the executive branch cannot spend the funds with discretion.
“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.”