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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Hillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality 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 AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Bipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyClimate change is a GOP issue, too On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump 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 CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-S.C.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSenate GOP votes to permanently ban earmarks The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law 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 LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity 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 PaulOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE (Ky.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine) have also said they will vote for the resolution and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender 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.