OLYMPIA – Washington is preparing to sue the federal government over President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to expand the border wall if any state funding is cut, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday.
In what could be considered a President’s Day message to the sitting president from someone who might run to replace him, Inslee said state agencies are waiting to see what federal programs may be reduced as Trump shifts money to build more barriers along the border than Congress has approved.
“We do not know what these decisions are yet,” he said during a wide-ranging press conference. Among the areas they are monitoring are federal military construction and drug interdiction programs in the state. “We are one of the more intensive states for military expenditures, so we’re likely to get hurt more than the average state.”
The office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which has repeatedly and successfully sued the federal government over Trump Administration policies since 2017, is monitoring the situation and would be ready to act if needed. “We are not filing a lawsuit today,” Inslee said.
On Twitter, Ferguson confirmed he would not be challenging the national emergency declaration “until we confirm that budget appropriations intended for Washington state will be rerouted to fund the wall.”
Trump has said an expanded barrier along the southern border is necessary to stop illegal immigration into the United States, cut down on drug smuggling and human trafficking. Inslee said it is “basically a waste of money” and the way Trump wants to pay for it is unconstitutional.
“Congress can’t be overruled unilaterally by the president,” he said. “He believes he is some kind of emperor.”
Inslee has been considering a run for the White House in 2020, and when asked how many days before he would make his decision known, he replied “just the right number…relatively soon.”
He said he was not waiting for the Legislature to make decisions on his proposals to address climate change, which would be one of the pillars of his presidential campaign.
Also at the press conference, Inslee said the number of mew measles cases in the state appears to have stabilized, but he was still supporting pending legislation that would remove personal exemptions as a reason not to have school children receive the Measles, Mumps Rubella vaccinations. He said he would have to study another proposal to remove personal exemptions for other vaccinations, but said the MMR vaccination is important for “herd immunity”.
“It’s not just for that child, it’s for their neighbor, their cousin, their brother and sister,” he said.
He also said he continues to encourage legislators to abide by the same rules for releasing their public records as other state and local government entities. The goal is the same transparency for the Legislature, he said, but declined to comment on the latest bill pending in the Senate.
“Whether we get there through the Legislature, or we get there through judicial decision, that’s what I think should happen,” he said.