Senate rejects Trump’s national emergency declaration

In a rebuke of the president, the Senate voted 59-41 to pass legislation Thursday afternoon rejecting President Trump’s national emergency declaration concerning the U.S.-Mexico border. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in voting to pass the resolution.

The president issued his emergency declaration as a way to free up funding to build his long-promised wall along the southern border after Congress refused to provide the $5 billion he originally requested. New budget requests now put that total dollar amount at over $8 billion.

While the bill now moves to the president’s desk, Mr. Trump will likely move to issue his first veto of his presidency thus far after tweeting Thursday morning that he was “prepared” to do so if necessary.

He later told reporters in an Oval Office ceremony, “I’ll probably have to veto. And it’s not going to be overturned. And we’re going to have our whole thing. It’s been — the legal scholars all say it’s totally constitutional. It’s very important it’s really a border security vote. It’s pure and simple it’s a vote for border security, it’s a vote for no crime.”

Mr. Trump issued a decree shortly after Thursday’s vote, tweeting simply: “VETO!”

The House passed its version of the resolution last week, largely along party lines.

Leading up to Thursday’s vote, many senators, including Republicans, called out the president’s order as an abuse of emergency powers, claiming it could set a dangerous precedent.

“It’s a question about the balance of power that is core to our constitution,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters on Thursday.  Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, in speech on the senate floor echoed his colleague, saying “This declaration is a dangerous precedent.”  

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, meanwhile said that while he supports Mr. Trump’s goals of securing the border, “this continues our country down the path of all powerful executive – something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of.”

In an apparent flip, just moments before the senate’s vote, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, announced that he would vote against the resolution — a change in his position from when he wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that he could not support the national emergency declaration. Tillis had written that as a conservative he couldn’t endorse a precedent that “future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his colleagues, “The beauty of this government demands that we rise to the occasion this afternoon.”

“Let’s keep our government with the same balance of power that has served us so well for the past two centuries,” he added. 

Here are the Republicans who voted in support of the resolution of disapproval:

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

Republican Sens. John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner, Ted Cruz and Ben Sasse sided with Mr. Trump by voting against the resolution. 

After the vote Thursday afternoon, Sen. Toomey said in a statement to CBS that while he’s supported Mr. Trump’s efforts to secure the border, “when I disagree with the president, I feel a responsibility to stand up and say so. For these reasons, I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in voting to terminate the president’s national emergency declaration.”

Sen. Paul issued a similar statement, saying “I stand with President Trump on the need for a border wall and stronger border security, but the Constitution clearly states that money cannot be spent unless Congress has passed a law to do so.”


John Nolen contributed to this report. This is a developing story.

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