Emer­gency mea­sure re­jected

Se­nate says no; Trump gets two votes from state

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page - DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF AND WIRE RE­PORTS

WASH­ING­TON — The Repub­li­can-run Se­nate on Thurs­day firmly re­jected Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency at the south­west bor­der.

The Se­nate voted 59-41 to can­cel Trump’s Fe­bru­ary procla­ma­tion of a bor­der emer­gency, which he in­voked to spend $3.6 bil­lion more for bor­der bar­ri­ers than Congress had ap­proved. Twelve Repub­li­cans joined Democrats in de­fy­ing Trump.

With the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House’s ap­proval of the same res­o­lu­tion last month, Se­nate pas­sage sends it to Trump, who has vowed to veto the mea­sure. Ap­proval votes in both the Se­nate and House fell short of the two-thirds ma­jori­ties that would be needed for an over­ride to suc­ceed.

“VETO!” Trump tweeted min­utes af­ter the vote.

Thurs­day was the first time Congress has voted to block a pres­i­den­tial emer­gency since the Na­tional Emer­gency Act be­came law in 1976.

Repub­li­cans who voted against the dis­ap­proval res­o­lu­tion, in­clud­ing both of Arkansas’ se­na­tors, said the pres­i­dent was act­ing within his au­thor­ity un­der the Na­tional Emer­gen­cies Act, and tak­ing nec­es­sary steps to ad­dress a hu­man­i­tar­ian and drug cri­sis at the bor­der that Democrats had ig­nored.

In an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day, Sen. Tom Cot­ton said Trump’s ac­tions were ap­pro­pri­ate.

“I don’t see this as a big con­sti­tu­tional clash be­cause the pres­i­dent is act­ing with the au­thor­ity of pow­ers past con­gresses have del­e­gated to him,” the Repub­li­can from Dar­danelle said. “We do, in fact, have a cri­sis on our bor­der as more and more peo­ple show up with chil­dren, of­ten times not their own but traf­ficked, as a kind of le­gal force field to get into the coun­try with no ques­tions asked.”

Law­mak­ers have ceded a lot of power over the years, Cot­ton sug­gested.

“I’m will­ing to con­sider that, per­haps, we should re­visit how much power we’ve del­e­gated as a Congress to the ex­ec­u­tive branch, not only un­der the Emer­gency Pow­ers Act, but un­der lots of laws that give too much power to the ex­ec­u­tive branch. But on this par­tic­u­lar ques­tion, the pres­i­dent is act­ing with au­thor­ity that Congress has del­e­gated to him to ad­dress a gen­uine cri­sis,” he said.

Sen. John Booz­man was not avail­able for com­ment af­ter Thurs­day’s vote.

But in a writ­ten state­ment, he de­fended Trump’s emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion.

“A hu­man­i­tar­ian and se­cu­rity cri­sis ex­ists along our south­ern bor­der that re­quires im­me­di­ate ac­tion. It is in our na­tional in­ter­est to se­cure the bor­der,” the Repub­li­can from Rogers said. “The pres­i­dent’s use of an au­thor­ity in ex­ist­ing law will fund the con­struc­tion of a strong bor­der se­cu­rity sys­tem that will be a de­ter­rent to those who seek to il­le­gally en­ter our coun­try.”

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mc­Connell, R-Ky., also said Trump acted within his au­thor­ity when declar­ing the emer­gency.

“The pres­i­dent is op­er­at­ing within ex­ist­ing law, and the cri­sis on our bor­der is all too real,” he said.

Op­po­nents said Trump’s as­ser­tion of an emer­gency was overblown. They said he is­sued his dec­la­ra­tion only be­cause Congress agreed to pro­vide less than $1.4 bil­lion for bar­ri­ers and he was des­per­ate to ful­fill his cam­paign prom­ise on the wall. They said the Con­sti­tu­tion gives Congress, not pres­i­dents, con­trol over spend­ing and said Trump’s stretch­ing of emer­gency pow­ers would in­vite fu­ture pres­i­dents to do the same for their own con­cerns.

“He’s ob­sessed with show­ing strength, and he couldn’t just aban­don his pur­suit of the bor­der wall, so he had to tram­ple on the Con­sti­tu­tion to con­tinue his fight,” said Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

“It’s im­per­a­tive for the pres­i­dent to honor Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional role,” Sen. Rob Port­man, R-Ohio, said Thurs­day on the Se­nate floor as he an­nounced his vote in fa­vor of the dis­ap­proval res­o­lu­tion. “A na­tional emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion is a tool to be used cau­tiously and spar­ingly.”


Repub­li­cans had hoped to win over enough GOP se­na­tors to re­ject Thurs­day’s res­o­lu­tion if Trump would en­dorse a sep­a­rate bill by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, con­strain­ing emer­gency dec­la­ra­tions in the fu­ture.

But Trump told Lee on Wed­nes­day that he op­posed the leg­is­la­tion, prompt­ing Lee to say he would back the res­o­lu­tion.

The Na­tional Emer­gency Act gives pres­i­dents wide lee­way in declar­ing an emer­gency. Congress can vote to block a dec­la­ra­tion, but the twothirds ma­jori­ties re­quired to over­come pres­i­den­tial ve­toes make it hard for law­mak­ers to pre­vail.

Lee had pro­posed let­ting a pres­i­den­tial emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion last 30 days un­less Congress voted to ex­tend it. That would have ap­plied to fu­ture emer­gen­cies but not Trump’s cur­rent or­der un­less he sought to re­new it next year.

Three other Repub­li­can se­na­tors also tried to find a com­pro­mise with the pres­i­dent. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Ne­braska and Ted Cruz of Texas in­ter­rupted Trump’s din­ner with his wife, Me­la­nia, at the White House on Wed­nes­day night to share their con­cerns about the con­sti­tu­tional prece­dent that Trump had es­tab­lished. Gra­ham said he asked for the meet­ing be­cause he con­sid­ered Sasse and Cruz “good guys” and hoped to limit the num­ber of de­fec­tions.

Cruz ini­ti­ated the meet­ing, in hopes of sell­ing Trump on his own re­write of the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion law that would re­strict fund­ing from mil­i­tary sources, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Repub­li­can aide with di­rect knowl­edge of the pro­posal. Trump sum­moned a lawyer from the White House coun­sel’s of­fice, who said the plan would strip the pres­i­dent of pow­ers he cur­rently pos­sesses. “No way,” Trump told the trio, ac­cord­ing to a per­son with knowl­edge of the ex­change.

“I said there’s some peo­ple want to talk to you, they have some con­cerns about the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion,” Gra­ham said. “Hell, if I was him, I would have told us to go to hell.”

All three men sided with Trump and voted against the res­o­lu­tion.


Be­fore Thurs­day’s vote, there were warn­ings that GOP se­na­tors re­sist­ing Trump could face po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences. A White House of­fi­cial said Trump won’t for­get when se­na­tors who op­pose him want him to at­tend fundrais­ers or pro­vide other help. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly on in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions.

At the White House, Trump did not an­swer when re­porters asked if there would be con­se­quences for Repub­li­cans who voted against him.

“I’m sure he will not be happy with my vote,” said mod­er­ate Sen. Su­san Collins of Maine, a GOP defector who faces re-elec­tion next year. “But I’m a United States sen­a­tor and feel my job is to stand up for the Con­sti­tu­tion. So let the chips fall where they may.”

Un­der­scor­ing the po­lit­i­cal pres­sures in play, Sen. Thom Til­lis, R-N.C., one of the first Repub­li­cans to say he’d op­pose Trump’s bor­der emer­gency, voted Thurs­day to sup­port it.

Til­lis, who faces a po­ten­tially dif­fi­cult re-elec­tion race next year, cited talks with the White House that sug­gest Trump could be open to re­strict­ing pres­i­den­tial emer­gency pow­ers in the fu­ture. Til­lis wrote in a Wash­ing­ton Post opin­ion col­umn last month that there’d be “no in­tel­lec­tual hon­esty” in back­ing Trump af­ter his re­peated ob­jec­tions about ex­ec­u­tive over­reach by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

In ad­di­tion to Collins, Port­man and Lee, nine other Repub­li­cans joined Se­nate Democrats in sup­port­ing the res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval: La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee, Roy Blunt of Mis­souri, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Rom­ney of Utah, Marco Ru­bio of Florida, Pa­trick Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia, Rand Paul of Ken­tucky, Roger Wicker of Mis­sis­sippi and Jerry Mo­ran of Kansas.

Ahead of the vote, Trump took to Twit­ter to goad his crit­ics and in­sist that de­fec­tors would be sid­ing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“A vote for to­day’s res­o­lu­tion by Repub­li­can Se­na­tors is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Bor­der Democrats!” Trump wrote.

The pres­i­dent said he would sup­port GOP ef­forts to update the Na­tional Emer­gen­cies Act at a later date, “but to­day’s is­sue is BOR­DER SE­CU­RITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!”

Pelosi told re­porters: “The Se­nate will hope­fully vote for the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States to up­hold the oath of of­fice that we all take by vot­ing to re­ject the pres­i­dent’s mea­sure that does vi­o­lence on the Con­sti­tu­tion… . We’ll then send the bill to the pres­i­dent.”

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