House suit to bar Trump’s use of funds for wall can proceed

David Yaffe-Bellany

The U.S. House of Representatives can move forward with a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration’s reallocation of government funds for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the federal appeals court in Washington ruled.

The Democrat-led House had sued to block President Donald Trump from transferring funds designated for other uses to finance the start of wall construction, saying Congress never authorized the expenditure. The appeals court on Friday overruled a lower-court decision that said the House didn’t have legal standing to challenge the transfer of funds.

In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz.

“The Executive Branch has, in a word, snatched the House’s key out of its hands,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in a 24-page ruling. “The ironclad constitutional rule is that the Executive Branch cannot spend until both the House and the Senate say so.”

The legal battle stems from a dispute over wall funding that led to a government shutdown in early 2019. After Congress refused to appropriate the funds the White House had requested to construct the wall, Trump declared a national emergency and allocated a total of $8.1 billion to construction, much of which was designed for other purposes, like combating organized crime.

The House alleged that the Trump administration violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution by doing an end run around Congress to secure funding for the wall, one of the president’s signature political projects.