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Trump tweets 'VETO!' after Senate votes to block his border emergency declaration

Jacob Pramuk

The Senate voted Thursday to block President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration over the southern border, a sharp bipartisan rebuke of the president's flex of executive power.

The chamber comfortably passed the measure in a 59-41 vote. Twelve Republicans who worried about executive overreach supported it in an embarrassing blow to the president.

Trump plans to reject the bill, which the Democratic-held House has already passed. In one tweet after the vote, he simply said, "VETO!" In a subsequent message, he said he looks "forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution," thanking Republicans "who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!" 

Donald Trump tweet

Donald Trump tweet 2

The veto would be the first of his presidency. Neither chamber appears to have enough support to overcome Trump's opposition with a two-thirds majority vote.

It is unclear now if House leaders will push for a vote to override the president's veto. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who introduced the House resolution, told reporters Thursday that he will push for another vote even though it will be "very tough" to reach a veto-proof majority. He called it a "consequential constitutional vote."

Trump publicly lobbied the GOP to support his declaration in recent days. Republican lawmakers who voted to terminate Trump's action voiced concerns not only about presidents circumventing Congress' appropriations power, but also the prospect of Democratic administrations declaring emergencies on other topics in the future.

President Donald Trump

Here are the GOP senators who voted to block the emergency declaration:

  • Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi

Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border last month to divert $3.6 billion from military construction funds to build his proposed border wall. The move followed Trump's frustration with lawmakers' decision to allocate only $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for border barriers in a measure to fund the government through September.

With Trump's expected veto, Congress will not stop the emergency declaration. His administration will still have to defend its legality in court. More than a dozen states and several other groups have challenged the executive action.

Trump has repeatedly argued he has the authority to declare a national emergency. In recent days, he tried to frame it as a vote on whether to support his immigration policies — not on whether he overreached his authority.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he departs following the Friends of Ireland Luncheon in honor of Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 14, 2019.

In a tweet Thursday, he wrote that "today's issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!!" He added: "Don't vote with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi!"

Donald Trump tweet

In a statement after the vote, Pelosi said Congress voted "on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis" to reject a "sham emergency declaration." 

"President Trump's emergency declaration is an unlawful power grab that does violence to the Constitution and fundamentally alters the separation of powers," she said. "This is not an emergency, and the Congress has declared in a strong bipartisan voice that the President's fearmongering doesn't make it one."

Republican senators found themselves trying to balance support for Trump's goals — which GOP voters overwhelmingly back — and wariness about executive overreach. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supported the national emergency declaration, putting more pressure on GOP members.

Two Republicans facing tough re-election bids next year — Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — notably voted against blocking the declaration.

Lee proposed a plan this week that would give Congress more power to check future presidential emergency declarations, but not the current one. The measure could have limited GOP defections on Thursday's vote, but Trump declined to support it Wednesday.

The Senate's national emergency vote was its second admonishment of the president in two days. It passed a resolution Wednesday to end U.S. support for a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen in a challenge to Trump's relationship with Saudi Arabia.

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