Senate Poised To Reject Border Emergency, Provoking Trump’s 1st Veto
It’s looking increasingly likely that four Senate Republicans will join with the chamber’s Democrats (and the Independents who caucus with those Democrats) to pass a resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency before he has a chance to appropriate funding for the wall – drawing what many expect would be the first veto of the Trump era.
According to Bloomberg, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Sunday that he would vote to block Trump’s emergency declaration, which seeks to appropriate some $7 billion to fund 234 miles of border wall. Paul’s vote would be the crucial fourth Republican vote needed to pass the resolution (which only requires a simple majority). He would join with Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Thom Tillis.
By opposing the resolution, Paul said he wasn’t trying to stymie Trump’s border-security ambitions; rather, he was solely seeking to protect the American system of “checks and balances” and avoid setting a dangerous precedent – a common refrain among Republicans who oppose the national emergency.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said in a speech during the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, the Bowling Green Daily Newsreported on its website.
“We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
The House voted last week to block the emergency declaration. And while 13 Republicans joined all the Democrats to pass the resolution by a vote of 245-182, the margin wouldn’t be large enough to override Trump’s veto. The Senate now has two weeks to pass the resolution, but a vote is expected before the Senate leaves for a one-week break on March 15.
Trump declared the national emergency on Feb. 15 after signing a $1.375 billion bill to fund part of a physical barrier along the US-Mexico border wall, which was well below the $5.7 billion that he requested. With the emergency would pull money from the Treasury and Defense Department budgets to begin immediate construction on an expanded portion of the wall.
But, as Collins said, many Republican lawmakers are uneasy about being bypassed by Trump, and that others might join the opposition, according to the Hill.
Collins added that she’s had talks with “many” Republican senators who “are very uneasy about the precedent that the president’s action establishes and who were critical of similar actions that were taken by President Obama.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, declined to say how he would vote saying that he wanted to see what other “options” Republicans may have.
But Republicans have acknowledged that the president will likely need to use his first veto if he’s going to win the political fight with Congress.
But, of course, urging Trump to consult with his attorneys and find “another way” to secure money for his border wall is ultimately a facetious proposition: They know that there’s no other avenue to build the wall so quickly (if there was, then Trump wouldn’t have shut down the government because he would have been able to secure the Democratic votes necessary to go through Congress).
Fortunately for Trump, while casting the veto might not be ideal, he can still move ahead with building the wall.