Trump makes last-ditch effort to stop Senate rebuke of emergency declaration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE on Thursday made a last-ditch effort to stymie the Senate’s expected rebuke of his national emergency declaration at the southwest border, as Republican support for the measure grew.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump renewed his veto threat against a resolution of disapproval senators are scheduled to vote on Thursday afternoon and defended the legality of declaring an emergency to build a border wall without approval from Congress.

The president also floated the possibility of agreeing to changes to the national-emergency law “at a later date,” a proposal floated by Republican senators to avert the standoff, but framed the vote as an ideological litmus test on immigration for the GOP.

“A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress MORE, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” Trump tweeted.

 

 

 

The repeated warnings, however, appeared to do little to stem the tide of GOP defections. Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderFinding a path forward to end surprise medical billing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Republicans make U-turn on health care MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets Trump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-Utah) both announced Thursday morning they would vote for the resolution, joining five other Republican senators who say they will as well.  

Speaking to reporters later at the White House, Trump appeared resigned to the resolution’s passage but expressed confidence it will not be approved with a veto-proof majority.

“I’ll probably have to veto and it’s not going to be overturned,” he said.

Even if the Senate passes the resolution with strong Republican support, it would worsen the sting for Trump, who has made the border wall his signature issue and harangued members of his own party to support his effort to build it. The Democrat-controlled House has already approved the resolution, meaning Trump will be forced to use his veto powers for the first time.

Lawmakers in both parties believe Trump exceeded his authority when he invoked his emergency powers to obtain money for the wall after Congress refused to grant his request for billions of dollars in funding, which had triggered a 35-day government shutdown that dealt a political blow to the GOP.

Despite their constitutional concerns, a number of Republican senators have tried to stave off a direct confrontation with the president that could deepen an intra-party rift on the issue of immigration.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz: 'Fox News went all in for Trump' 2 Republican senators introduce resolution to label antifa as domestic terrorists Ted Cruz: Trump's chances of winning reelection are '50-50' MORE (R-Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' MORE (R-S.C.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseJeffrey Epstein denied bail Acosta on shaky ground as GOP support wavers Some good advice for Democrats to ignore in 2020 MORE (R-Neb.) reportedly made a surprise visit to the White House on Wednesday night to pitch the president on a compromise plan that could have satisfied the concerns of their colleagues.

But a White House lawyer informed the lawmakers the plan would not work, according to The Washington Post, and Trump forged ahead with his veto threats.

“The legal scholars all say it’s totally constitutional,” Trump said during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. “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.”

Trump also suggested that sticking with him on the vote would help the GOP win voters in the 2020 election, even though polls show most voters disapprove of the emergency declaration.

“I think it’s going to be a great election issue,” he said.

Vice President Pence and White House aides have also been working behind the scenes to prevent GOP defections. Pence visited GOP senators on Capitol Hill this week and Trump has spoken by phone with several of them, according to White House officials.

But Trump has only been willing to go so far to address Republicans’ concerns. He personally shot down a proposal floated by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin MORE (R-Utah) that would have curtailed the president’s emergency powers in exchange for GOP senators’ votes against the resolution.

Lee announced he would vote for the resolution on Wednesday shortly after hearing from Trump that the plan was a non-starter.

GOP Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' MORE (Ky.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Overnight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (Maine) have also said they will vote for the resolution and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisRepublicans scramble to contain Trump fallout McConnell says Trump is not a racist, but calls for better rhetoric GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist MORE (R-N.C.) has indicated he will vote in favor of it as well.

The Senate is expected to vote in the afternoon shortly after Trump visits the Capitol with Varadar for the annual “Friends of Ireland” luncheon with members of Congress to mark St. Patrick’s Day.

It comes one day after the Senate voted to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, another break between Trump and the Republican-led Senate that has traditionally supported his policies.