President to wield pen like a sword
Veto looms after the Senate, with GOP help, rejects Trump’s emergency order.
WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.Mexico border, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats to deliver a bipartisan rebuke to the president.
The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-41 Senate vote sends the measure to Trump’s desk. He has promised to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down, and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.
“VETO!” Trump tweeted moments after the vote.
Still, the Senate vote stood as a rare instance of Republicans breaking with Trump in significant numbers on an issue central to his presidency — the construction of a wall along the southern border.
For weeks Trump had sought to frame the debate in terms of immigration, arguing that Republican senators who supported border security should
back him on the emergency declaration. But for many GOP lawmakers, it was about a bigger issue: The Constitution itself, which grants Congress — not the president — control over government spending.
By declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress to get money for his wall, Trump was violating the separation of powers and setting a potentially dangerous precedent, these senators argued.
“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 who voted against the disapproval resolution 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.
“There is a crisis at the border and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have prevented a solution,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., naming the House speaker and Senate minority leader. “It should never have come to this, but in the absence of congressional action, the president did what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to do.”
Many GOP senators agonized at length before deciding how to vote, with many of them — including Portman and Gardner, who is up for re-election next year — waiting until Thursday to announce their positions.
In the end, only one Republican who is up for re-election next year — Susan Collins, R-Maine — voted to reject the declaration.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott voted with the president. “It’s clear that there is a crisis and it’s long-passed time to fix it,” Scott tweeted.
In addition to Collins and Portman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was among the dozen GOP senators voting against Trump. In a statement, Rubio said passage of Trump’s emergency declaration “would create a precedent a future president may abuse to jump-start programs like the Green New Deal.”
The other nine GOP senators voting against Trump were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Roy Blunt of Missouri; Mike Lee of Utah; Jerry Moran of Kansas; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Mitt Romney of Utah; Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania; and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Thursday’s vote followed numerous failed efforts at compromise by vacillating GOP senators, including a dramatic incident Wednesday evening where a trio of GOP senators — Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. — showed up nearly unannounced at the White House, interrupting Trump at dinner in a last-ditch effort to craft a compromise.
Their efforts failed, and Graham, Cruz and Sasse all ended up voting against disapproving Trump’s declaration.
“I said thank you for meeting with us. Sorry we ruined your dinner. And again, if it’d been me, I would have kicked us out after about five minutes,” Graham said later.
Concern among GOP senators has focused on Trump’s use of the National Emergencies Act to grab $3.6 billion appropriated by Congress for military construction projects nationwide — and use it to build barriers along the border instead.
The vote came a day after a Senate vote to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, marking unusual twin rebukes from a Senate that has mostly bowed to Trump’s wishes.