Monday, August 19, 2019

Republicans join Democrats in rejecting Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration

A dozen Republicans joined Senate Democrats yesterday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, arguing that the president had exceeded his powers in trying to build a border wall over Congress’s objections.

The 59-to-41 vote on a measure already approved by the House set up the first veto of Mr. Trump’s presidency. It was not a big enough margin to override his promised veto, but Congress has now voted for the first time to block a presidential emergency declaration.

“Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. “Our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.”

Mr. Trump had sought to frame the vote publicly as not only a declaration of support for his border security policies but as a sign of personal loyalty; “It’s pure and simple: It’s a vote for border security; it’s a vote for no crime,” Mr. Trump told reporters before the vote. But he could not overcome concerns among Republican senators about the legality of redirecting $3.6 billion from military construction projects toward the border wall, even after Congress explicitly rejected the funding request.

“I believe the use of emergency powers in this circumstance violates the Constitution,” said Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, in a statement written on lined paper. “This continues our country down the path of all-powerful executive, something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of.”

Ultimately, nearly a quarter of Senate Republicans joined Senate Democrats in supporting the House-passed resolution of disapproval: Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Mr. Alexander and Mr. Moran.

The president tweeted that he was looking “forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country.”

The House vote to override the upcoming veto is expected on March 26 and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York promised that would not be the end to it; Democrats will keep forcing repeat votes on the resolution.

THE NEW YORK TIMES