The Senate again voted on Wednesday to end President Trump’s emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, paving the way for a veto showdown with the White House.
Senators voted 54-41 on a resolution to end the declaration, which Trump used to shift billions of dollars from the military toward wall construction.
Under the National Emergencies Act, a resolution ending the declaration needed only a simple majority to clear the Senate, making it likely to be approved. But underscoring the broad swath of concern about Trump’s actions among the Senate GOP caucus, 11 Republican senators voted to nix the declaration.
GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) voted to end the president’s declaration.Remember these people and vote them out!
The vote marks another setback for Trump in the midst of a chaotic week on Capitol Hill. The White House is locked in a burgeoning impeachment battle with Democrats and lawmakers still need to fund the government before Monday to prevent the second shutdown of the year.
Democrats have seized on the administration’s decision to shift money away from military construction projects as a way to politically box in Republicans by forcing them to decide between breaking with Trump or voting to allow money to be shifted away from projects in their own states.
“The vote today is the surest and likely the only way to restore funding the president has stolen from our troops and military projects across the country,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.
He added that if Republicans voted to uphold Trump’s use of his emergency powers they would be setting “a dangerous precedent that could embolden not just this president but future presidents to ignore congressional authority.”
Trump’s decision to leapfrog Congress and declare a national emergency came after lawmakers passed a government funding bill that included $1.375 billion for border barriers.
But the decision has become a perennial headache for the GOP. Under the National Emergencies Act, Democrats can force a vote on ending Trump’s emergency declaration every six months. The Senate previously voted to end it in February, with 12 Republicans voting with Democrats, but the House was unable to override a veto.
“It’s a vote the Democrats can insist on. I’m pretty sure there’s no Republican insisting on taking that vote again,” said Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, referring to the second vote.
Under a list circulated by the Pentagon, officials are shifting money away from military construction projects in 14 states that have Republican senators to go instead toward the border wall.
Some of those states will be at the heart of the 2020 battle for control of the Senate, including Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina, where GOP Sens. Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) are on the ballot.
Democrats also trolled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday, holding a press conference with a former educator from Fort Campbell Middle School in Kentucky, which lost $62 million under the emergency declaration.
McConnell knocked Democrats on Wednesday, arguing they were forcing them to hold a repeat vote even though they knew the outcome — that Congress won’t be able to override a veto.
“Still unwilling to work with the president and Republicans on a long-term bipartisan solution for border security, Senate Democrats are making us repeat the same show vote again. I would urge my colleagues to vote for border security and vote against Democrats’ resolution,” he said.
Republicans who support ending the emergency declaration argue that their decision isn’t about Trump personally but about broader concerns on upholding the separation of powers.
“Let me be clear: The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the President. Rather, it is: Do we want the Executive Branch — now or in the future — to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?” GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), a co-sponsor of the resolution, asked earlier this month.
But Republicans would also likely have sparked fierce backlash from their party’s base if they broke with Trump on the wall, an issue that fires up the president’s core group of supporters.
They are hoping to backfill the $3.6 billion being diverted to the border as part of the fiscal 2020 funding bills.
Democrats, however, have pledged to block any effort to replace the money. The Senate has also struggled to get its funding bills off the ground. The military construction and Veterans Affairs bill, which would include the backfilled funds, hasn’t yet been brought up in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is up for reelection, said he would vote to uphold the emergency declaration even though it is resulting in military projects in his state losing money.
“Same way I voted last time. How would I square voting differently?” Cornyn asked.
When a reporter noted his state was losing money according to the Pentagon list, he added: “that’s way too parochial.”
Spokespeople for McSally and Tillis also confirmed ahead of the vote that they would also support the emergency declaration.
“Senator Tillis will once again be supporting President Trump’s emergency declaration because Democrats refuse to provide the president with the tools and resources he needs to address the crisis at our southern border and keep America safe,” said a spokesperson for Tillis.
Democrats urged additional Republicans to support the resolution, but were also realistic about their chances of picking up more GOP votes. Critically for Trump, Republicans were able to keep the vote total below 67, the amount needed to override a veto.
“I do remember what happened with one senator who actually put out a column … saying he was going to vote against this extension of presidential power, 48 hours later he reversed himself,” Durbin said, referring to Tillis. “I don’t know what pressure these Republican senators face … in questioning the president.”