Administration

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

President Trump 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 Pelosi, 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 Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mitt Romney (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 Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Sasse (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 Lee (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 Paul (Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) have also said they will vote for the resolution and Sen. Thom Tillis (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.

 

Tags Ben Sasse Border wall Donald Trump Emergency declaration Lamar Alexander Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mike Lee Mitt Romney Nancy Pelosi Rand Paul Susan Collins Ted Cruz Thom Tillis

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