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GOP-controlled Senate rebukes Trump with vote to rescind his border emergency declaration

Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Thursday joined Democrats to vote against President Donald Trump's border emergency declaration, a stinging rebuke of the White House's decision to circumvent Congress to deliver on the president's campaign pledge to build a wall.

Twelve Republicans defected to vote with all Democrats in support of a resolution to terminate the president's declaration.

Hours before the vote, Trump repeated his threat to issue a veto, the first of his administration. He called illegal immigration a threat to national security and a humanitarian crisis.

The vote fell well short of the 67 votes that would be needed to override the president's veto.

The rebuke came after a lengthy effort by Senate Republicans to convince the White House to withdraw the resolution and turn to other means to construct the border wall. But in recent days, Republican senators began to peel away, suggesting the resolution would pass.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., publicly urged the administration to look elsewhere for border money, warning that the resolution is "a dangerous precedent" that future Democratic presidents will use to enact other priorities, like gun control and climate change.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tried to broker a compromise with a resolution to limit the president's power to enact emergency declarations. The White House rejected both ideas.

Both men voted with Democrats to rescind the president's declaration.

Lawmakers in both parties viewed the emergency declaration as an end-run around Congress' constitutional authority to determine how the federal government spends money. Just months ago, Congress voted to fund the government without money for the border wall.

"This is a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the Republicans who voted against the president. "For the executive branch to override a law passed by Congress would make it the ultimate power rather than a balancing power."

Other Republicans voting with Democrats included Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

 

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican running for re-election in North Carolina next year, said last month he would support the measure, but he flipped Thursday under intense lobbying from the White House.

He said he changed his mind because he and other lawmakers were working on a broader measure to limit the president's authority under the National Emergencies Act.

Many of the Republican defectors were careful to stress that they agreed with boosting border security funding -- a prominent theme of Trump's 2016 campaign and potentially a factor in the 2020 race.

"I believe the crisis on our southern border is real," Alexander said on the Senate floor. "U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrested more than 66,000 illegal aliens in February 2019, the highest total in a single month since March 2009."

Most Republicans sided with the president.

"We have failed to protect our border as any sovereign nation must and our people are dying because of it," said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. "The administration's sensible, long-overdue efforts to secure the border have been met only by howls of outrage from the Democratic Party."

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

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