Senate votes to reject Trump’s national emergency declaration, setting up his first veto

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The US Capitol building in Washington. (AP photo)
The US Capitol building in Washington. (AP photo)

In a rebuke of the president, the Senate voted 59-41 Thursday afternoon in support of legislation that aims to reject President Trump’s national emergency declaration concerning the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president issued his emergency declaration as a way to free up funding to build his long-promised wall along the southern border after Congress refused to provide the $5 billion he originally requested. New budget requests now put that total dollar amount at over $8 billion.

While the bill now moves to the president’s desk, Mr. Trump will likely move to issue his fist veto of his presidency thus far after tweeting Thursday morning that he was “prepared” to do so if necessary.

He later told reporters in an Oval Office ceremony, “I’ll probably have to veto. And it’s not going to be overturned. And we’re going to have our whole thing. It’s been — the legal scholars all say it’s totally constitutional. It’s very important it’s really a border security vote. It’s pure and simple it’s a vote for border security, it’s a vote for no crime.”

The House passed its version of the resolution last week, largely along party lines.

Leading up to Thursday’s vote, many senators, including Republicans, called out the president’s order as an abuse of emergency powers, claiming it could set a dangerous precedent.

“It’s a question about the balance of power that is core to our constitution,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters on Thursday.  Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, in speech on the senate floor echoed his colleague, saying “This declaration is a dangerous precedent.”

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, meanwhile said that while he supports Mr. Trump’s goals of securing the border, “this continues our country down the path of all powerful executive – something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of.”

In an apparent flip, just moments before the senate’s vote, Senator Tillis, R-North Carolina, announced that he would vote against the resolution — a change in his position from when he wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that he could not support the national emergency declaration. Tillis had written that as a conservative he couldn’t endorse a precedent that “future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies.”

Senator Rick Scott said, “For years, everyone in both parties has said they want to secure our border, but they never did anything about it. It’s time to get serious about border security and the safety of American families. That’s why I support the President’s efforts to secure the border and voted against the resolution of disapproval today.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his colleagues, “The beauty of this government demands that we rise to the occasion this afternoon.”

“Let’s keep our government with the same balance of power that has served us so well for the past two centuries,” he added.

Here are the Republicans who voted in support of the resolution of disapproval:

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee
  • Sen. Susan Collins, Maine
  • Sen. Mike Lee, Utah
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
  • Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania
  • Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky
  • Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah
  • Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas
  • Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio
  • Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi
  • Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida
  • Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri

Republican Sens. John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner, Ted Cruz and Ben Sasse sided with Mr. Trump by voting against the resolution.

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