Trump’s emergency declaration splits Alaska delegation

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Public domain photo by Bureau of Land Management)

The vote is expected to be close when the U.S. Senate decides whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern border. The House voted Tuesday to cancel the emergency, and the Alaska delegation is split on the question.

Only 13 House Republicans voted for the resolution to cancel the emergency, and Alaska Congressman Don Young was not among them. He favors more border security and thinks Trump has the right to make the declaration, he said in a written statement after the vote.

The Senate is expected to vote before mid-March. For the anti-emergency resolution to pass, four Republicans would have to vote for it. As of Thursday, three had said they are likely to cross the aisle. That includes Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who told reporters she will probably vote to overturn the emergency. She said she’s concerned about expanding presidential powers.

Sen. Dan Sullivan hasn’t said how he’d vote, but he grew animated when the subject of border security came up at a hearing this week. Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, testified that there’s no military threat at the border, and another senator called it a “fake emergency.” Sullivan, though, pointed to drug trafficking.

“So if that’s not an emergency, 72,000 dead Americans killed by opioids and heroin in one year, I have no frickin’ idea what an emergency is,” Sullivan said.

Government statistics show most of the heroin and fentanyl seized along the border comes through legal crossing points.

Trump plans to use the emergency declaration to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects and spend the money instead on a border wall. All three Alaskans in Congress say they are concerned that home-state projects could be defunded. The list of appropriations that are available for diversion includes more than $1 billion that Congress intended to send to Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Station and other Alaska locations.

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