Attempt to smooth wall-cash fight fails
Senator to back rebuke of Trump
WASHINGTON — The Senate is poised to rebuke President Donald Trump over his national emergency declaration at the U.S.-Mexico border after Trump shot down a compromise brokered by GOP senators.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who was leading the compromise efforts, announced plans to vote for legislation to nullify Trump’s emergency declaration when a disapproval resolution goes to the floor today. Lee made the announcement shortly after hearing directly from Trump on Wednesday that his compromise — which would have curtailed presidential emergency powers going forward — was not acceptable.
“For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the executive branch. While there was attention on the issue I had hoped the ARTICLE ONE Act could begin to take that power back,” Lee said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it appears the bill does not have an immediate path forward, so I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration.”
Lee’s announcement likely means majority
support for the disapproval resolution, which already was approved in the House. Senate passage would send the measure to Trump, likely leading him to issue the first veto of his administration to strike it down.
If Trump’s border emergency stands, he could divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build border barriers, even though Congress had voted to limit him to less than $1.4 billion for such construction.
But approval of the resolution would highlight a clash in which Trump was being forced to protect a campaign promise by vetoing legislation sent to him by a Republican-led Senate. Congress has never before voted to overturn a president’s emergency declaration.
Under a 1976 law, presidents have wide discretion in determining when a national emergency has occurred. Congress can vote to block an emergency declaration, but the two-thirds majorities required to overcome presidential vetoes make it hard for lawmakers to prevail.
Lee’s effort to craft legislation limiting the scope of presidential emergency powers going forward was seen as a way to limit GOP defections on the separate disapproval resolution vote. Trump called Lee to express his opposition as Lee lunched with fellow Republican senators at the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe it. Lee then relayed the information to his colleagues.
Four GOP senators had already announced plans to vote for the disapproval resolution, giving it the majority support
needed to pass. But one of those senators — Thom Tillis, R-N.C. — had indicated that his vote could be in play, depending on the outcome of the Lee legislation. That raised the possibility that GOP senators could limit defections enough to keep the disapproval resolution from passing.
That outcome is now likely out of reach.
“There was an effort, numerous efforts, to engage with the vice president and the president,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But “the president is not persuaded.”
“I don’t know of any president that likes to give up power,” Cornyn said.
Trump has been warning GOP senators against crossing him on a vote that he has cast as a question of border security — not a constitutional issue of separation of powers, as some GOP senators see it.
Speaking Wednesday at the White House, Trump said it would be “a bad thing” to vote against the declaration.
“We’ll see whether or not I have to do the veto,” Trump said.
“It will be, I think, all very successful, regardless of how it all works out,” Trump said of his border effort. “A lot of money’s being spent right now. We have access to a lot of money, and more money is coming in, and people are starting to see it.”
Trump also expressed his frustration with the GOP in a tweet Wednesday.
“Republican Senators are overthinking tomorrow’s vote on National Emergency. It is very simply Border Security/ No Crime - Should not be thought of any other way. We have a MAJOR NATIONAL EMERGENCY at our Border and the People of our Country know it very well!” Trump tweeted.
Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that her chamber would not consider the Lee legislation to rein in presidential powers, characterizing it as an attempt to give Trump “a pass” on violating the Constitution.
“Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. “The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass.”
Many Senate Republicans had started to align behind Lee’s measure, which would
amend the National Emergencies Act to say an emergency declaration would automatically expire after 30 days unless both chambers of Congress affirmatively vote to keep it.
If passed into law, Lee’s bill could affect Trump’s border-emergency declaration, since ongoing national emergency declarations must be reaffirmed annually.
In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called the measure crafted by Lee a “fig leaf.”
“Our Republican friends are saying with this fig leaf, ‘Grant me the courage to stand up to President Trump,
but not yet,’ ” Schumer said. “And next time and next time and next time, they’ll say the same thing. So let’s do the right thing. Let’s tell the president he cannot use his overreaching power to declare an emergency when he couldn’t get Congress to do what he wanted.”
The other GOP senators who plan to support the disapproval resolution are Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky.