President, Congress agree on spending bill; Emergency declaration to follow
Congress will fund the government. The president told the Republican leader that he will sign the bill and then declare a state of emergency on the border. Then Democrats are expected to counter with a resolution of disapproval. And on top of that there will be court challenges to the emergency declaration from a variety of sources.
And if all that is not enough the Congress did not include the Violence Against Women Act in the spending bill.
Whew. Get that? Let’s break it down.
It’s now likely that there will not be another government shutdown. The Senate approved and House is expected to vote later Thursday on a spending bill. But there is no money for a wall -- so the president told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, that he would declare a national emergency.
“The president will sign the bill,” McConnell said on the floor. The White House followed with a confirmation. “President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The spending bill funds dozens of federal agencies through Sept. 30. The act does not include the $5.7 billion that President Trump wanted for a border wall but does fund enhanced security for 55 miles along the border.
The president’s expected emergency declaration opens up a number of issues. A future president, perhaps a liberal, could use the same authority and precedent for action on climate change, or gun violence, or even the Violence Against Women Act.
But first the emergency declaration will have to get past court challenges. Plural challenges.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will review the options and respond appropriately. “First of all, it’s not an emergency,” she said, but a humanitarian crisis on the border. And second it’s the “president making an end run around the Congress.” She said the Constitution is clear, the power of the purse belongs to Congress not the president.
There are other tools the speaker could use as well, such as a resolution of disapproval. That’s a resolution that requires a vote -- so McConnell would have to call it up for a vote putting Republicans on record.
The Violence Against Women Act is not included in the spending bill. That law formally expired on September 30 but was temporarily extended in the short term spending bills. The legislation will have to begin again through a legislative route, which gives McConnell the ability to choose whether to even consider a vote if he disagrees with the final bill.
It also means the law's authorization for grant funding will expire Friday at midnight. Friday was also the deadline for tribes to apply for funding from the Justice Department under the act.
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, said “the Violence Against Women’s Act provides critical protections for families who are in the cycle of domestic violence, but Republicans let it lapse late last year. We will be working to strengthen VAWA so it becomes more meaningful and effective for more communities."
Haaland said she will continue working on the legislation "to update provisions that are particularly important for tribal communities who will benefit from added protections for children, tribal officers, and missing and murdered Native women. We must do everything we can to end the cycle of violence."
Virginia Davis, senior policy advisor, at the National Congress of American Indians said earlier this week the NCAI's executive committee adopted an emergency resolution calling on Congress to move swiftly to pass a long-term reauthorization of VAWA that includes a number of provisions to enhance safety and justice for Native women. The funding bill that Congress is voting on today includes critical funding for VAWA programs for FY 19, and we will work with Congress in the coming months to reauthorize and strengthen VAWA."
"While VAWA will not be extended again, this does not impact its funding, money has already been appropriated for this fiscal year," according to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. "All legal protections for victims and survivors continue, including protections in federally-subsidized housing, special tribal jurisdiction, and protections for immigrant victims. Grant conditions that protect survivor confidentiality and safety remain intact."
The Violence Against Women Act does not require reauthorization for tribal jurisdiction, but much of the funding mechanism could be in jeopardy after the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2019.
The publication, Roll Call, said a "senior Democratic aide"said there would be "zero impact" to the law's expiration assuming a stand-alone bill is enacted.
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports
(The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.)