Sen. Mike Lee says its time for Congress to retake power — Utah lawmakers react to president’s emergency move

President Donald Trump points to a member of the media while taking questions after speaking during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington • Utah’s members of Congress are split on if President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border is a legal or a prudent step.

Trump asserted that there was a crisis at the southern border as immigrants flood into America — despite the administration’s own statistics showing a lower level of border crossers than in the 2000s — in signing the declaration that will pull billions of dollars from the Pentagon budget to build a physical barrier.

Many members of Congress were still figuring out their positions on the president's actions. Others offered their quick takes.

“My initial assessment is that what Pres. Trump announced is legal,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tweeted. “Whether or not it should be legal is a different matter. Congress has been ceding far too much power to the exec. branch for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunity to start taking that power back.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had previously warned Trump against using emergency powers to address the border wall. Friday, Romney said he was still reviewing the order.

“As Sen. Romney expressed yesterday, he has concerns with this approach,” said Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson. “This is a serious and complex issue that requires careful review, and he’ll be studying this in-depth in the coming days and weeks.”

Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, staked out his position quickly.

“I oppose the President’s emergency declaration,” McAdams said in a tweet. “Republicans and Democrats came together for a bipartisan compromise to keep the government open and fund border security. The declaration is an extreme action that sets a dangerous precedent by the president.”

The House plans to vote on a measure to end Trump’s emergency declaration. That move would also trigger a vote in the Senate.

Utah’s other members of Congress were silent on Friday about the announcement.