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Locals react to national emergency declaration

Locals react to national emergency declaration

Protests held Monday in Glens Falls and Niskayuna; Democrats will vote to repeal declaration
Locals react to national emergency declaration
Protesters stand outside Elise Stefanik’s office in Glens Falls Monday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

CAPITAL REGION -- President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to speed construction of a southern border wall stirred anti-Trump activism both locally and nationwide on Monday.

It also spurred promises from two local members of Congress that they would vote to overturn the declaration.

In Glens Falls, several dozen protesters, chanting and waving signs, rallied outside U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik's office, and another smaller demonstration took place in Niskayuna outside the Mohawk Commons shopping center.

"There's no national emergency," said Edward Smith Jr. of Schenectady, an activist who spoke at the Glens Falls rally. "If there was, it would have been declared some time ago. This is more of a political ploy. If drugs really were coming across the unfenced border, don't you think Fox News would be all over it?"

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The two local events and others across the country were organized by the progressive group MoveOn.org, which said it was "mobilizing nonviolent, rapid-response events to stand up against Trump's [declaration] to defend our democracy and immigrant, Muslim, black and brown communities from Trump's dangerous national emergency power grab."

Organizers said the event in Glens Falls was intended to prod Stefanik, a Republican who represents the North Country's 21st Congressional District, to vote in favor of the anticipated House resolution to end the emergency.

Asked through a spokeswoman for her position, Stefanik issued a statement that avoided saying how she would vote.

"I remain committed to securing our border and funding our government, and I voted for the bipartisan appropriations package in the House last week that was signed into law by President Trump," stated Stefanik's prepared response. "However, I believe that declaring a national emergency will be challenged in our courts. The House needs to work together on a bipartisan legislative solution to fund comprehensive border security."

Elsewhere in the Capital Region, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, has already announced he will sign on to an expected House of Representatives resolution that would terminate the emergency, as spelled out in the National Emergencies Act. The resolution is expected to be introduced and pass the House and possibly the Senate, though analysts think the resolution doesn't have the two-thirds support needed to override an almost-certain presidential veto.

"The president is declaring an emergency over a crisis that doesn't exist," said Tonko,who is among the most reliably progressive voices in the House.

"President Trump failed to convince Mexico, the American people or Congress to pay for this massive, misguided border wall," Tonko said in his prepared statement. "Now, he's working feverishly to undermine the rule of law that has long protected our American republic. I'm signing on [to the resolution] to end this fake emergency now."

Freshman U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, also expressed opposition to the emergency declaration and said he would vote for Congress to override the declaration.

"I find it a violation of our separation of powers, and I find it at this juncture, after all the work we have done to find a bipartisan [budget and border security] agreement, irresponsible," Delgado said at a town hall meeting Monday in Cooperstown. "There simply is no legal or constitutional basis for the president of the United States to declare an emergency as an end-around. The appropriations power lies exclusively in the hands of the Congress."

The Cooperstown meeting was one of six town hall meetings Delgado is holding this week around the 19th Congressional District. Another will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Canajoharie High School auditorium.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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