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Trump issues first veto after rebuke of border order

Whether Trump overstepped his constitutional authority now will be up to the federal courts hearing lawsuits filed by 16 states and outside groups.

President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding. (Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump issued his first veto Friday, blocking a bipartisan congressional resolution that nullified the national emergency he declared on the Southern border to divert military funds for a border wall.

Trump issued the veto a day after the Senate dealt him a stinging rebuke when 12 Republican joined Democrats in 59-41 vote to overturn the emergency declaration that several members of his own party decried as an unconstitutional presidential overreach.

“Yesterday, Congress passed a dangerous resolution that if signed into law would put countless Americans in danger, very grave danger,” Trump said. “To defend the safety and security of all Americans I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless resolution.”

Trump signed the veto message in the Oval Office, where cabinet officials, sheriffs and parents of children killed by noncitizens gathered to congratulate him for his hard line on border security.

“Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it,” he said.

A month ago, Trump issued declared an emergency so he could shift $3.6 billion appropriated by Congress for military construction projects to pay for the building of walls on the U.S.-Mexican border after Congress rejected his demand for $5.7 billion.

On Feb. 27, the House passed the resolution to revoke the declaration in a 245-182 vote, with 13 Republicans joined Democrats in supporting it. The Senate approved it Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement that the House would hold a vote to try to overturn the veto on March 26. But that vote is unlikely to succeed because it does not have the support of two-thirds of the members of her chamber.

Trump’s declaration will stay in effect, enabling him to tap federal funds as planned.

“It is no surprise that the president holds the rule of law and our Constitution in minimal regard,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a statement.

“There is no emergency. Congress has refused to fund his wall multiple times. Mexico won’t pay for it. And a bipartisan majority in both chambers just voted to terminate his fake emergency,” Schumer said.

The question of whether Trump overstepped his constitutional authority will now be up to the federal courts hearing and deciding on lawsuits filed by 16 states and outside groups raising constitutional and legal objections to the declaration.

Attorney General William Barr, who will defend against those lawsuits, told Trump, “The humanitarian and security crisis we have on the border right now is exactly the kind of emergency that presidents are permitted to address under the National Emergencies Act.” 

But the Republican senators who voted to terminate the declaration said they support Trump on border security, but believe he is overreaching his authority by encroaching on Congress’s power of the purse.

“Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn).

Asked if he had sympathy with their views, Trump said: “I do. They’re doing what they have to do, and I put no pressure on anybody.” He added, “I didn’t need the votes. We all knew it’s going to be a veto, and there’s not going to be an override.”

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