Trump’s veto of re­buke isn’t end to fight

The Fresno Bee - - Front Page - BY ELI STOKOLS

With his first veto Fri­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­fied Congress’ bi­par­ti­san re­jec­tion of his de­clared na­tional emer­gency at the south­ern bor­der and in­sisted on his power to cir­cum­vent the leg­isla­tive branch and di­rect bil­lions of dol­lars for a wall there.

De­fi­ant de­spite what was a re­mark­able re­buke from con­gres- sional Repub­li­cans as well as Democrats, Trump signed his veto be­fore tele­vi­sion cam­eras in the Oval Of­fice, flanked by law of­fi­cers and the par­ents of vic­tims of crime and drug ad­dic­tion. While Congress likely can’t muster the votes to over­ride his veto, the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion still faces chal­lenges in fed­eral court as an ex­ec­u­tive power grab.

Crit­ics have called his dec­la­ra­tion a vi­o­la­tion of Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers, but Trump con­demned the res­o­lu­tion, terming it “dan­ger­ous” and “reck­less.”

He told re­porters, “Congress has the free­dom to pass this res­o­lu­tion and I have the duty to veto it.”

The pres­i­dent had quickly sig­naled his ac­tion mo­ments af­ter the Se­nate’s vote Thurs­day when he tweeted sim­ply “VETO!” Both the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate and the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House, which ini­ti­ated the res­o­lu­tion to ter­mi­nate the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion, had ap­proved it by ma­jori­ties that fell short of the two-thirds mar­gin needed to over­ride a pres­i­den­tial veto.

Even so, Se­nate pas­sage was by a sig­nif­i­cant 59-41 mar­gin be­cause of the de­fec­tion of 12 Repub­li­cans who with­stood pres­sure from the White House. Thir­teen Repub­li­cans sup­ported the res­o­lu­tion in the House two weeks ago.

In send­ing the res­o­lu­tion to Trump, Congress for the third time in the week took ac­tion stand­ing up to him, a rare break af­ter two years in which Repub­li­cans’ def­er­ence to the pres­i­dent left him largely un­chal­lenged by the leg­isla­tive branch.

De­spite an­other veto threat, the Se­nate on Wed­nes­day passed a res­o­lu­tion to end U.S. sup­port for the war in Ye­men led by Saudi Ara­bia. And the House unan­i­mously voted to de­mand re­lease of any re­port from the spe­cial coun­sel that’s been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, Trump and his as­so­ci­ates. Also, Trump’s pro­posed fed­eral bud­get for fis­cal 2020 got a cool re­cep­tion Mon­day on Capi­tol Hill.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky has blocked mea­sures Trump op­poses in the past, but he was un­able to pre­vent a Se­nate vote to end the pres­i­dent’s na­tional emer­gency be­cause a vote was re­quired by the 1976 law on pres­i­den­tial dec­la­ra­tions of emer­gency.

Trump’s first veto comes af­ter just over two months of split con­trol of Congress, fol­low­ing Democrats’ cap­ture of a House ma­jor­ity in the midterm elec­tion, and there could be more ve­toes to come.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, who gov­erned for his first six years with a Repub­li­can-con­trolled Congress, went his en­tire first term without a veto. In his sec­ond term, he is­sued 12, most af­ter Democrats took over Congress for his fi­nal two years.

Bush’s first veto was for the Stem Cell Re­search En­hance­ment Act in 2005, which re­li­gious and an­tiabor­tion con­ser­va­tives op­posed be­cause it lifted fund­ing re­stric­tions for re­search us­ing em­bryos. That is­sue also di­vided Repub­li­cans be­cause more mod­er­ate mem­bers fa­vored such re­search to en­able med­i­cal ad­vances.

Bush’s suc­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, also is­sued 12 ve­toes over his two terms, 10 in his fi­nal two years when Repub­li­cans had taken con­trol of both houses of Congress.

Be­fore the Se­nate vote, Trump had worked to limit Repub­li­can de­fec­tions, tweet­ing “a vote for to­day’s res­o­lu­tion by Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Bor­der Democrats!”

Some Repub­li­cans who had ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion, call­ing it an ex­ec­u­tive usurpa­tion of Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional power of the purse, ul­ti­mately caved. None did so more dra­mat­i­cally than Sen. Thom Til­lis of North Carolina, who had said he was “stand­ing on prin­ci­ple” and had gone so far as to write a col­umn for The Wash­ing­ton Post on his op­po­si­tion.

Yet ul­ti­mately, un­der fire from Trump sup­port­ers in his state, and wor­ried about a con­ser­va­tive chal­lenger next year when he faces re­elec­tion, Til­lis voted against the res­o­lu­tion.

Trump de­clared a na­tional emer­gency along the U.S.-Mex­ico fron­tier Feb. 15, af­ter fail­ing to pres­sure Congress into au­tho­riz­ing $5.7 bil­lion for a phys­i­cal bar­rier along the bor­der.

Don­ald Trump

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