The Senate voted Thursday to terminate Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the border in the most significant legislative rebuke he has suffered as president.
The 59-41 vote included 12 Republicans who bucked the president to support the measure, which had already cleared the Democratic-run House. The most prominent rebels were Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney.
GOP support for the resolution, which appeared to mushroom in the last 24 hours, was enough to easily ensure passage, setting up the first veto of Trump’s presidency.
Trump didn’t take long to reveal how he would respond. He blasted out a one-word tweet in all capital letters within minutes of the vote: ‘VETO!’ he said.
Elaborating a half-hour later, the president said he couldn’t wait to exercise his constitutional authority to rebuff Congress for the first time since he took office nearly 26 months ago.
‘I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country,’ he tweeted. ‘I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!’
It was unclear on Thursday afternoon how long it would take for the resolution to reach Trump’s desk. He has ten days, excluding Sunday, per the U.S. Constitution, to send the unsigned bill back, or cave and sign it.
After Trump vetoes the measure, the House and Senate would each have to muster the two-thirds majority to overturn it. That would mean six more Republicans flipping from Trump’s side.
Voted down: The moment the Senate decided against Trump’s declaration of a border emergency after 12 Republicans rebelled
Donald Trump says he will veto a bipartisan resolution senator passed today that terminates his national emergency. He had put on a show of bonhomie with Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill at a luncheon for Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar
President Trump blasted out his response to the extraordinary rebuke on Twitter with a one-word declaration
In full: After his one-word VETO! tweet Trump attacked Republicans who had voted against him for backing a ‘Democratic inspired Resolution’
His campaign started running a poll on what he should do after he announced his veto plans
The measure would have the effect of terminating Trump’s use of the National Emergencies Act to reprogram funds to build a border wall – despite a standoff with Democrats during the government shutdown that resulted in Trump being denied the $5.7 billion he was requesting for that purpose.
TWELVE SENATORS OPPOSE TRUMP
A dozen Republican senators voted Thursday to block the president’s national emergency.
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Roy Blunt of Missouri
Susan Collins of Maine
Mike Lee of Utah
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Rob Portman of Ohio
Mitt Romney of Utah
Marc Rubio of Florida
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Roger Wicker of Mississippi
Rand Paul of Ketucky
Jerry Moran of Kansas
However, supporters of the measure were short of the 67 votes needed to override his promised veto and lawmakers were leaving town for week-long recess.
The vote seeking to turn back Trump on his signature campaign issue came just a day after the Senate pushed back on his foreign policy – voting to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen. The war is backed by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a key ally courted by Trump.
The Republican-run Senate mobilized to try to overturn his national emergency effort after Trump marshaled $6.6 billion more for wall funding than Congress had appropriated using the emergency designation.
Their opposition put Trump in the uncomfortable position of having to censure his own party.
Trump moved to milk the issue not long after the vote by sending out a fundraising email with subject line: ‘Veto?’ The email blast asked: ‘Should President Trump use his veto power to FINISH THE WALL?’
So did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She sent out an email promising to match donations to Democrats dollar for dollar until the president issues a veto.
She signed the resolution immediately, holding it up for cameras to get a good look at it an the huge grin on her face.
The speaker’s office had not said as of Thursday evening when it might hold a new vote to see what kind of support it could muster to confront Trump a second time and overturn his promised veto.
Senators rebuked Trump hours after he told them they would have to go through him to end his border emergency. He said Thursday morning that he would use the power of his pen for the first time in his presidency.
A dozen Republicans joined in the rebellion. The list included members of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which has amassed institutional power by steering funds as designated through spending legislation, as well as institutionalists wary of ceding congressional authority to the executive.
Gleeful: Nancy Pelosi wasted no time signing the bill repealing the declaration of a national emergency. It will go to the president’s desk where he has ten days to sign or veto it
All smiles: The rebuke for Trump from his own party represents a victory for the Democrats
Pelosi was fundraising off of the vote as quickly as Trump, promising her personally match donations until he signs a veto, dollar for dollar
Defeated: The measure was a rare legislative defeat for Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader
Rebel: Mitt Romney spoke after he rebelled against the Trump emergency declaration
ON THE OTHER HAND: Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is up for reeelction in 2020, voted against the measure, after being one of the first to back it
But the resistance was severely cut by a pledge that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, himself a former Appropriations ‘cardinal,’ made to Trump not to support the effort.
‘I will vote to support the president’s decision later today, and I will encourage our colleagues to do the same,’ he said as he opened the vote on the Senate floor.
Republicans voting with Democrats to advance the measure were Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Utah’s Mitt Romney, Ohio’s Rob Portman, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Kansas’ Jerry Moran, Missouri’s Roy Blunt, Maine’s Susan Collins, Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and Mississippi’s Roger Wicker.
In one unexpected twist, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is up for reeelction in 2020, voted against the measure, after being one of the first to back it.
‘It’s never a tough vote for me when I’m standing on principle,’ Tillis said last week when he was in favor of it.
The Washington Post reported that prominent conservative donors and activists had begun talk of recruiting a challenger to Tillis had he voted against Trump on the issue.
Rubio, a former presidential candidate who challenged Trump, said of the emergency declaration: ‘No crisis justifies violating the Constitution.’
He added in a statement, ‘We have an emergency at our border, which is why I support the president’s use of forfeiture funds and counter-drug money to build a wall.
‘However, I cannot support moving funds that Congress explicitly appropriated for construction and upgrades of our military bases. This would create a precedent a future president may abuse to jumpstart programs like the Green New Deal.’
Romney told reporters who cornered him in the Senate that he’d spoke to Trump about his vote during a meeting they had last week at the White House.
‘Well, he’d rather have me vote in a different direction, but I let him know that this for me is a matter of defending the Constitution,’ he said.
Toomey told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday that he was backing the effort, because the subject had because the matter had already been settled during the government shutdown – even though he personally backed Trump’s demand for $5.7 nillion in border wall funding.
‘It’s not at all an unreasonable amount,’ said Toomey. ‘But the process by which you do that matters. This issue was extensively litigated and adjudicated. We had a government shutdown over this, we eventually got a compromise, which I didn’t’ even support … but the president signed it,’ he added.
Also joining the revolt was Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Appropriations Committee, which derives its power from the ability to direct funding to projects.
Portman, an institutionalist who previously served as U.S. Trade Representative and White House budget director, announced on the Senate floor that he would vote to terminate the designation.
Portman says otherwise, some future Democratic president could use emergency powers to take down the border wall.
‘It doesn’t mean the president can ignore Congress and substitute his own judgment for the will of the people,’ Portman said.
He said he didn’t think the purpose of the National Emergenies Act was to ‘circumvent what Congress and the president have agreed to through duly enacted legislation.’
‘So I think the separation of powers is very important. So I think it was a mistake for the president to use this mechanism,’ he added.
He insisted the country has a ‘MAJOR NATIONAL EMERGENCY’ on the border and that’s all they need to be considering
The House passed its version by House 245 to 182 – also short of a veto-proof majority.
Trump said in advance he would veto a bipartisan resolution senators planned to pass, casting it as being either for or against security, rather than a constitutional test of spending authority.
‘It’s really a border security vote. It’s pure and simple, it’s a vote for border security, it’s a vote for no crime,’ he argued from the Oval Office.
Trump said he would support legislation reining in executive power, if Republicans support his border emergency now, appearing to make a U-turn on a compromise solution a senator said the White House had rejected.
But it didn’t matter. A dozen voted for the resolution of disapproval as lawmakers from his own party rebelled against his use of executive authority.
Once he finally casts his veto – Trump will join a club of modern presidents who exercised their constitutional authority.
President Ronald Reagan cast 78 of them, George H.W. Bush cast 44, while Bill Clinton cast 37 and Barack Obama cast 12. Two of Obama’s vetoes were slapdowns of his own party. The other ten came during his final legislative session in office.
Trump refused to back down from his own promise to issue a veto after a journalist asked if he was rethinking his emergency, insisting legislators did not have the votes to override him.
‘No, no, I don’t know what the vote will be. It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably have to veto. It’s not going to be overturned,’ he said.
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana supported Trump’s position on the vote. Nevertheless, he suggested that the president should have tried to work through a compromise that would have curbed future use of emergency declarations.
‘I was a little surprised that he didn’t accept our suggestion about how to try to find some middle ground,’ Kennedy told reporters.
‘If you look at it from 30,000 feet … One branch of government is asking another branch to give up power. Nobody gives up power around here. People want power, they don’t’ want to give it up. So maybe it was a heavy ask.’ But, Kennedy added: ‘It’s an issue that we should address.’
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer meanwhile called it a ‘red-letter day in the history of how the United States functions’ as he urged senators in prepared remarks to restrain Trump now.
Senators from his party proceeded to trash the president’s emergency on the floor as an abuse of power.
Tennessee’s Alexander subsequently announced his yes vote on the termination resolution from the floor of the deliberative body.
‘It is inconsistent with the United States Constitution that I took an oath to support and defend,’ the retiring lawmaker said.
He said the founders intentionally gave the legislative branch the power of the purse after the Revolutionary War to keep the president from acting like a king.
‘This check on the executive is a source of our freedom,’ he said.
Allowing Trump to declare an emergency to build a wall that Congress refused to fund sets a ‘dangerous precedent,’ he argued in his Thursday morning speech.
McConnell advised senators who disagree with Trump to support legislation amending his emergency powers.
He suggested they examine how the National Emergencies Act can be updated to reflect those concerns.
‘I hope they can report bipartisan solutions through the regular order that the full Senate can take up,’ he said.
McConnell encouraged lawmakers to ‘not lose sight’ of the vote that is ‘before us later today,’ which he said was on a ‘narrow question not especially a difficult.’
With the test looming, Trump said, ‘A big National Emergency vote today by The United States Senate on Border Security & the Wall (which is already under major construction). I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!’
He seemed to suggest later that he would be willing to make a deal with Republicans balking at his emergency who’d pitched the vice president on a compromise two days prior.
Trump told GOP senators Wednesday, as he attempted to quell the rebellion quit ‘overthinking’ his national emergency as they deliberated how to vote on a resolution rebuking him.
He said he told them to ‘vote anyway you want, vote how you feel good’ while cautioning that it will ‘very bad thing for them long into the future’ if they move to terminate it.
‘I think anybody going against border security, drug trafficking human trafficking, that’s a bad vote,’ he warned on Wednesday.
President Trump told GOP senators to quit ‘overthinking’ his national emergency as they deliberated how to vote on a resolution rebuking him
Trump insisted early Wednesday afternoon on Twitter that the country has a ‘MAJOR NATIONAL EMERGENCY’ on the border and that’s all senators need to be considering.
He claimed later, at a meeting on drug trafficking, that it is an ‘urgent national crisis’ his administration is ‘doing many, many things’ to combat, in addition to a wall.
He argued once again that the vote is not about about constitutionality, nor is it a vote on precedent.
‘You should take a look at what President Obama did with DACA and with so many other things, that was no precedent,’ he said. ‘And I think most Republican senators fully understand that.’
In response to a query from a reporter, Trump denied a charge from Sen. Paul that he was putting extreme pressure on senators to back him in the vote, saying, ‘Nobody’s beaten up, I said use your own discretion.’
Trump insisted that Democrats voting to terminate his resolution are for open borders and want drugs and crime to flow into the country unregulated.
‘I guess they think its good politically. I happen to think it’s bad politically,’ he assessed. ‘And the Republicans aren’t, but I told Republican senators vote any way you want, vote how you feel good.’
A group of Republican senators pitched the vice president Tuesday on a deal to spare the president the embarrassment of having the border emergency voted down in the GOP-controlled Senate in the first place.
But one of them said after a meeting between Trump and senators from the party on Wednesday afternoon, that the White House had signaled there was no such deal to be had.
The offer involved the president backing a proposal that would limit his power to railroad Congress with future emergencies. They presented it as a way to preserve Trump’s border crisis declaration and save him from having to exercise his first veto.
Republican senators put it to Mike Pence in a meeting he took at the request of Sen. Tillis on Tuesday, a senior administration official told DailyMail.com. Pence pledged to take the deal back to the president but made no other commitments.
The conversation had the intended effect on Tillis’ position, he indicated on Thursday, after he voted against the Senate’s resolution.
One of the proposals came from Sen. Mike Lee. His bill would cancel any future emergency that does not receive the approval of Congress within 30 days.
Lee’s office said Wednesday afternoon that the White House ‘had communicated it would not support’ the bill that would ‘reclaim legislative powers’ from the executive branch.
‘Unfortunately, it appears the bill does not have an immediate path forward, so I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration,’ Lee said in a corresponding statement. ‘I hope this legislation will serve as a starting point for future work on this very important issue.’
A group of Republican senators pitched the vice president on a deal to spare the president the embarrassment of having his national emergency voted down in the GOP -controlled Senate
Sen. Thom Tillis said he’d vote against Trump’s national emergency but wound up supporting it in a surprise twist
Trump said prior to a Wednesday meeting with Republican senators, ‘I’ll have to take a look at what they present. They are coming over in a little while to present something.’
‘But we’re in very good shape, in terms of the money and in terms of the national emergency,’ the president said.
He sent a tweet suggesting he’d back the legislation on Thursday is senator’s dropped their support for the resolution – but he never mentioned Lee or his bill and it wasn’t clear after the emergency vote if the legislation had a pathway forward.
Prominent Republican senators like Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn who voted with Trump have signed on to the legislation to rein in the executive’s use of emergency powers.
Pelosi sought to deflate Lee’s effort to save on Wednesday in a statement calling his bill a nonstarter.
‘Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover,’ she said. ‘The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass.’
Even legislators who voted for the president’s bill voiced concerns with his use of emergency authority to corral money that they refused to approve outright.
Sen. Mike Lee is pushing legislation that would end future national emergencies unless Congress votes to approve them within 30 days
Chief White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a Monday briefing that the president had been in contact with lawmakers about the emergency in advance of the vote, but she did not identify them and did not elaborate on their discussions.
She argued that the president has the ‘authority’ to call an emergency and is doing what is ‘necessary’ to protect the border.
‘Let’s not forget, the only reason he has the authority to call a national emergency is because Congress gave him the right to do so,’ she said in response to a question from DailyMail.com.
Sanders asserted: ‘They failed to do their job. The President is fulfilling his duty, and he’s going to make sure he does what is necessary to protect the people of this country and secure our borders.’
Trump said this week that he needs roughly $8.6 billion more to complete his border structure, in addition to the money the national emergency will provide him.
He says he cobbled together $8 billion so far from previous appropriations. He won’t get it from Democrats in Congress and may have kneecapped himself by agreeing to new restraints on his emergency powers like the ones that Lee wants.