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Evers Kaul

Gov. Tony Evers, center, is directing Attorney General Josh Kaul, right, to fight the declaration of a border emergency by President Donald Trump.

Gov. Tony Evers called Wednesday for Wisconsin to join a group of states that want a judge to invalidate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to help fund construction of a wall at the nation’s southern border.

In a statement, Evers said he’s directing Attorney General Josh Kaul to add Wisconsin to a group of states bringing the challenge.

For Evers, a Democrat who became Wisconsin’s chief executive in January, the move is among his starkest acts of defiance yet toward the Republican president.

Trump’s national emergency declaration, issued last month, aims to redirect $8 billion in federal funds to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The move came after Congress passed a measure providing $1.37 billion for the wall, far less than what Trump sought.

The group of 20 attorneys general contends Trump’s actions violate the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

Evers said in the statement that “this isn’t how democracy is supposed to work.”

“This manufactured crisis harms communities, taxpayers and our country while ignoring the true crisis of separating kids from their families,” Evers said in a related Twitter post.

Kaul said in the statement that Trump’s move could redirect funding away from Wisconsin and other states to pay for a wall.

“Diverting federal funds away from Wisconsin to pay for a border wall would do little to enhance our security but have real consequences for communities in Wisconsin,” Kaul said.

Evers signaled last month that he was exploring having Wisconsin join the legal challenge.

Republican leaders of the state Legislature did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Pushback to Trump’s emergency declaration has been bipartisan, with some Republican members of Congress — including Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, of Menominee Falls, and Mike Gallagher, of Green Bay — saying it infringes on the powers of Congress.

The GOP-controlled U.S. Senate appeared poised to back a resolution Thursday to annul Trump’s declaration, which would be an unusual rebuke of their party’s standard-bearer. Trump has said he would veto that resolution.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.