Republicans would back Trump on emergency to build wall, says GOP senator

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) predicted on Tuesday that a number of GOP senators will back President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE's declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the Mexican border, despite their opposition to it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) met with Trump last week and warned that if he goes through with the declaration, as he has signaled, it could lead to passage in the House of a resolution blocking Trump's plan. 

McConnell said he'd have no choice under Senate rules but to bring the resolution to the Senate floor for a vote, where he said it could get enough GOP votes to be approved.

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Kennedy, however, expressed doubt that Republicans would actually vote against Trump on the matter.

“Some of my colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the aisle, particularly Republicans, are all a-titter about the fact that he might do it, but I’ve learned in this place talk’s cheap," he said on CNN.

"Let’s see how they vote,” Kennedy said. “If the president does it, I’m willing to bet you a lot of Republicans who are saying it’s a bad idea and he shouldn’t do it, they’ll vote to support him.”

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning that if all Democrats voted for a resolution blocking Trump, Republicans could afford no more than three defections if they wish to prevent the resolution disapproving the declaration from passing. 

It's likely Trump would veto such a measure and it's unlikely Congress could then pass a resolution with a veto-proof majority to override Trump. 

Still, McConnell and other Republicans would rather avoid the fight if they can.

Kennedy dismissed concerns over Trump declaring an emergency to build a border wall, which other Republicans have said could be used as a precedent for a Democratic president to declare an emergency on climate change or health care. 

“It’s not my preferred choice, but I don’t think the world's going to spin off its axis if the president does it,” he said.

The comments come as a growing number of Republican senators voice trepidations about such a move, even suggesting it could be unconstitutional.

“There's a lot of reservations in the conference about it and I hope they don't go down that path,” Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP rattled by Trump rally GOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters Monday.

“I don't think the intent was for it to be used in this kind of situation. And as a member of the Senate I'm very concerned if the president believes that he can reallocate or repurpose appropriations for which we have designated very specific purposes,” Sen. 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 (R-Maine) said, adding that declaring an emergency would be “of dubious constitutionality.” 

A bipartisan conference committee has until Feb. 15 to come up with a deal on border security, after which the government could enter another partial shutdown. Trump has threatened to declare an emergency if the eventual agreement does not include money for a border wall.