The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro and Cather­ine Lucey

WASH­ING­TON >> The Repub­li­can-run Se­nate firmly re­jected Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency at the south­west bor­der on Thurs­day, set­ting up a veto fight and deal­ing him a con­spic­u­ous re­buke as he tested how boldly he could ig­nore Congress in pur­suit of his high­est-pro­file goal.

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 in a show­down many GOP sen­a­tors had hoped to avoid be­cause he com­mands die-hard loy­alty from mil­lions of con­ser­va­tive vot­ers who could pun­ish de­fect­ing law­mak­ers in next year’s elec­tions.

With the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House’s ap­proval of the same res­o­lu­tion last month, Se­nate pas­sage sends it to Trump. He has shown no re­luc­tance to cast­ing his first veto to ad­vance his cam­paign ex­hor­ta­tion, “Build the Wall,” which has prompted roars at count­less Trump ral­lies. 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.

Trump has long been com­fort­able ve­to­ing the mea­sure be­cause he thinks it will en­dear him to his po­lit­i­cal base, said a White House of­fi­cial, com­ment­ing anony­mously be­cause the of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly.

Though Trump seems sure to pre­vail in that bat­tle, it re­mains note­wor­thy that law­mak­ers of both par­ties re­sisted him in a fight di­rectly tied to his cher­ished cam­paign theme of erect­ing a bor­der wall. The roll call came just a day after the Se­nate took a step to­ward a veto fight with Trump on an­other is­sue, vot­ing to end U.S. sup­port for the Saudi Ara­bian-led coali­tion’s war in Ye­men.

In a mea­sure of how re­mark­able the con­fronta­tion was, Thurs­day was the first time Congress has voted to block a pres­i­den­tial emer­gency since the Na­tional Emer­gency Act be­came law in 1976.

Even 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 in a state that reveres in­de­pen­dent streaks in its politi­cians. “But I’m a United State sen­a­tor and feel my job 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.

Still, the breadth of op­po­si­tion among Repub­li­cans sug­gested how con­cern about his dec­la­ra­tion had spread to all cor­ners of the GOP. Repub­li­can sen­a­tors vot­ing for the res­o­lu­tion block­ing Trump in­cluded Mitt Rom­ney of Utah, the party’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date; Mike Lee of Utah, a solid con­ser­va­tive; Trump 2016 pres­i­den­tial ri­vals Marco Ru­bio of Florida and Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee, a re­spected cen­trist.

Repub­li­cans con­trol the Se­nate 53-47. Democrats solidly op­posed Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion.

Pres­i­dents have de­clared 58 na­tional emer­gen­cies since the 1976 law, but this was the first aimed at ac­cess­ing money that Congress had ex­plic­itly de­nied, ac­cord­ing to El­iz­a­beth Goitein, co-di­rec­tor for na­tional se­cu­rity at New York Univer­sity Law School’s Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice.

Trump and Repub­li­cans back­ing him said there is a le­git­i­mate se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis at the bor­der with Mex­ico. They also said Trump was merely ex­er­cis­ing his pow­ers un­der the law, which largely leaves it to pres­i­dents to de­cide what a na­tional emer­gency is.

“The pres­i­dent is op­er­at­ing within ex­ist­ing law, and the cri­sis on our bor­der is all too real,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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 Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.

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

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

The strong­est chance of block­ing Trump re­mains sev­eral law­suits filed by Demo­cratic state at­tor­neys gen­eral, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and oth­ers. Those cases could ef­fec­tively block Trump from di­vert­ing ex­tra money to bar­rier con­struc­tion for months or longer.

On Twit­ter, Trump called on Repub­li­cans to op­pose the res­o­lu­tion, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., helped drive through the House last month.

“To­day’s is­sue is BOR­DER SE­CU­RITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!” he tweeted, in­vok­ing the name of a Demo­crat who boat­loads of GOP ads have vil­lainized in re­cent cam­paign cy­cles.

Other Repub­li­cans vot-

ing against Trump’s bor­der emer­gency were Roy Blunt of Mis­souri, Jerry Mo­ran of Kan­sas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Port­man of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia and Roger Wicker of Mis­sis­sippi.

The Na­tional Emer­gency Act gives pres­i­dents wide lee­way in declar­ing an emer­gency. Congress can vote to block a dec­la­ra­tion, but the two-thirds 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.


Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine, ar­rives in the Se­nate where she has said she will vote for a res­o­lu­tion to an­nul Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency at the south­west bor­der, on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton, Thurs­day


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., signs H.J. Res 46, a dis­ap­proval res­o­lu­tion that blocks Pres­i­dent Trump’s Na­tional Emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion, on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton, Thurs­day. How­ever, the res­o­lu­tion is ex­pected to be ve­toed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks Thurs­day dur­ing a meet­ing with Ir­ish Prime Min­is­ter Leo Varad­kar in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Wash­ing­ton.


Sen.Thom Til­lis, R-N.C., at­tends a Se­nate Armed Ser­vices hear­ing Thurs­day on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton. Til­lis has said he will vote to block Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bor­der emer­gency as some GOP sen­a­tors plan to join Democrats in a re­buke of Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency at the Mex­i­can bor­der.

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