12 Senate Republicans Defy Trump, Vote to ‘Terminate’ National Emergency
The Senate on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution to “terminate” President Trump’s national emergency declaration. The vote marks a stunning bipartisan rebuke of the president, who last month used his executive privilege to circumvent Congress and fund the construction of a wall along the southern border. Though the GOP holds a 53-47 advantage over Democrats in the Senate, the measure passed by a vote of 59-41, with 12 members of Trump’s own party voting against him.
Introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), the bill passed overwhelmingly in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last month. The National Emergencies Act of 1976 holds that once such a bill passes one chamber of Congress, the other must put it up for a vote within 18 days. Following the bill’s passage in the House, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rand Paul (R-KY) all said that they would vote in favor of the bill, while several other Republicans question Trump’s declaration publicly.
Sensing trouble, the White House waged a campaign to convince Republican senators to support the declaration. Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was essentially threatening lawmakers into voting against the resolution by sending a “clear” message that “Trump is taking names and noticing who opposes him — particularly if you are running for reelection next year.” Days later, the White House dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to meet privately with fence-sitting senators who have expressed concern over the declaration, including Tillis, Mike Lee (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Despite writing an op-ed for the Post announcing his intention to vote for the resolution, Tillis, who is up for reelection in 2020, flipped to Team Trump. Lee, Portman, Toomey and Alexander all voted in favor of the resolution. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Mitt Romeny (R-UT) were the other Republicans to vote for the resolution, along with Collins, Murkowski and Paul. “This is a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of power that are at its core,” Romney said in a statement Thursday morning. “For the executive branch to override a law passed by Congress would make it the ultimate power rather than a balancing power. This is not a vote against border security.”
Though it became clear as the vote approached that the resolution would pass, Trump went all-in on Twitter to try to prevent more than a handful of Republicans from defecting.
His efforts failed. A dozen Republican senators bucking the party line was close to a worst-case scenario for the White House, and it’s now undeniable that as the president tries to raid other government programs for border wall funding, he’s doing so without the full support of his own party.
Though the resolution passed both the House and the Senate, the national emergency declaration will still take effect, barring legal challenges (of which there are many). The White House indicated last week that should the bill make it to Trump’s desk, he would veto it. He removed all doubt after the vote went final Thursday afternoon.
“It doesn’t matter [what the vote will be],” Trump told reporters prior to the vote, assuring anyone listening that he fully expects his national emergency declaration to proceed according to plan. “I’ll probably have to veto. It’s not going to be overturned. We’re going to have our whole thing.” He doubled down on Twitter:
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