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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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.

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“A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLouisiana governor wins re-election Dynamic scoring: Forward-thinking budgeting practices to grow our economy Pelosi: Trump tweets on Yovanovitch show his 'insecurity as an imposter' 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 AlexanderPelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDeval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne Ocasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Jon Huntsman expected to run for governor in Utah MORE (R-Utah) both announced Thursday morning they would vote for the resolution, joining five other Republican senators who say they will as well.  

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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 CruzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators at White House Senators confirm Erdoğan played 'propaganda' video in White House meeting MORE (R-Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-S.C.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Trump has officially appointed one in four circuit court judges Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program 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 LeeGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Senators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech MORE (R-Utah) that would have curtailed the president’s emergency powers in exchange for GOP senators’ votes against the resolution.

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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 PaulGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Trump: 'Everybody knows who the whistleblower is' Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (Ky.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (Maine) have also said they will vote for the resolution and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Trump rules out total rollback of Chinese tariffs 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.