California-Mexico border
California-Mexico borderiStock

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration at the southern border, The Hill reports.

The resolution passed easily through the Democratic-controlled chamber, 245-182, with Democrats voting unanimously to send it to the Senate. The Republican-led upper chamber is expected to hold a vote on the measure in the coming weeks.

Sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), the one-page resolution would terminate Trump’s emergency declaration, thereby preventing the administration from extending the US-Mexico border wall using funds previously allocated for other programs.

The vote marks the first time Congress has taken formal action to block a presidential emergency declaration since the power was created in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

Trump declared a national emergency on February 15 to circumvent Congress and allocate nearly $8 billion to fund his long-sought project along the US-Mexico border.

Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency followed the 35-day government shutdown which started when Congress refused to approve $5.7 billion to help build a portion of the wall.

The shutdown ended on January 25 when the sides reached a deal for government to reopen for three weeks until February 15 while negotiations between Republicans and Democrats continue in an attempt to reach an agreement on border security.

Democrats hinged their opposition to the declaration on the basic principles of constitutional law, arguing that Trump’s unilateral move marks a clear-cut violation of the separation of powers and the unique authority of Congress to dictate where federal dollars are spent.

“If it were truly an emergency we'd all be there with the president,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said several hours before Tuesday’s vote, during a conference of the American Legion in Washington.

“Our founders had great vision. They did not want a king,” she added.

The national emergency declaration has been challenged in court by a group of 16 states, headed by California.