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Senate votes to overturn border emergency order; Trump vows veto

A dozen Republicans joined Democrats in approving a resolution, dealing the president a setback.

The Republican-run Senate rejected President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border on Thursday, setting up a veto fight and dealing him a conspicuous rebuke. (March 14) (Credit: SENATE TV)

WASHINGTON — The Senate delivered a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump on Thursday with a bipartisan vote to reject his national emergency declaration to divert funds to build a border wall as an overreach — prompting Trump to tweet: “VETO!”

A dozen Republicans joined Democrats in approving a resolution already passed by the House to terminate Trump’s emergency declaration on the southern border that allows him to tap $3.6 billion in military funds for a wall after Congress rejected his demand for $5.7 billion.

The resolution passed 59-41, but neither the House nor the Senate has the votes of two-thirds of their members needed to overturn a veto. It would be Trump's first veto, after Republicans delivered a rare objection to his demands.

Trump did not say when he will issue his veto, which would leave the declaration in effect and leave the question of whether Trump overstepped his constitutional authority up to the courts hearing lawsuits filed by 16 states and outside groups.

But he told reporters earlier Thursday that he believes the fight over the border wall will be “a great campaign issue.” After the vote, he ignored the Republicans who broke ranks and made accusations that Democrats deny.

“I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!” Trump tweeted.

The vote marked the second rebuke to Trump in two days by the Senate, controlled by Republicans with a 53-47 seat majority. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 54-46 to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) sought to fashion compromise and alternate bills to lure back their Republican colleagues uneasy with the emergency declaration. But Trump rejected those efforts.

The Republicans who voted to terminate the emergency declaration said during the floor debate over the measure that they supported Trump’s wall, but not his use of executive authority.

“I support the president on border security,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “But his declaration to take an additional $3.6 billion that Congress has appropriated for military hospitals, barracks and schools is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution that I swore an oath to support and defend.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) argued that “the president’s action comes into direct conflict with Congress’ authority to determine the appropriation of funds, a power vested in Congress by the framers of our Constitution.”

Backing Trump, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “We have reached a moment of crisis, but it’s not a constitutional crisis. It’s a crisis of the border.” 

After the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) applauded the Republicans who voted against Trump’s wishes and said that under the rules, Congress could bring up the resolution for a vote once every six months.

“Certainly, we would intend to do that,” Schumer said. “When you're defending the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers put so explicitly into our government, you’ve got to defend it 10 times, even if they knock it down.”

Republican senators voting for the resolution included Collins, Alexander, Lee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mitt Romney of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Rob Portman of Indiana, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) had announced he would support the resolution, but announced before the vote he had changed his mind and instead would work to change the act.

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