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 TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' 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 McConnellDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Overnight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts 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 ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' 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 CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote 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.