Senate to vote Friday on Trump's Iran war authority
GOP senators introduce bill to rein in president's emergency powers
More than a dozen Republican senators introduced legislation on Tuesday that would make it easier for Congress to terminate future national emergency declarations, days before the chamber will vote on President Trump's.
The legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), would require that Congress pass a resolution extending an emergency declaration after 30 days for it to continue; otherwise the declaration would be terminated.
"If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame. Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back. If we don't want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so," Lee said in a statement.
In addition to Lee, GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Todd Young (Ind.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) are supporting the legislation.
The legislation - known as the Assuring that Robust, Thorough, and Informed Congressional Leadership is Exercised Over National Emergencies (Article One) Act - would be a significant change to the mechanism Congress has to block a national emergency declaration.
Currently, Congress has to pass a resolution of disapproval to block Trump's emergency declaration on constructing the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump is expected to veto the resolution and neither chamber is expected to be able to override that veto.
Trump's emergency declaration has sparked a widespread discussion among Senate Republicans about if they should change the National Emergencies Act. Though Republicans largely support Trump on border security, they are concerned that a future Democratic president will use his precedent to force through action on issues like climate change or gun control.
Lee's legislation would not impact Trump's current emergency declaration on the wall but, if passed, would impact any future emergency declarations.
Senators are discussing changes to the emergency powers law with the White House but it's unclear if Trump would support reining in his own executive authority, and he's consistently bristled at attempts by Congress to force his hand on legislation.
Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, said Trump had raised concerns about executive overreach by previous presidents and that supporting Lee's legislation would give him a chance to get back in line with his campaign rhetoric.
"Well, the president had problems as a candidate with the Obama overreach, so he's been on record for some time on this topic," he said. "I think this will give him a chance to get back to where he was three years ago."
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that Republican senators were looking at amending the national emergencies law.
"We're looking at some ways to revisit the law. There's a lot of discomfort with the law. ... Was it too broad back in the '70s when it was passed? So yeah, we're discussing altering that," McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference.
Asked if he would support Lee's legislation, McConnell added that he "may well."