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 TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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 McConnellFox News has covered Ocasio-Cortez more than any 2020 Dem besides Warren: analysis Durbin after reading Green New Deal: 'What in the heck is this?' Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle 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 ThunePolls: Hiking estate tax less popular than taxing mega wealth, income Will Trump sign the border deal? Here's what we know Key GOP senator pitches Trump: Funding deal a 'down payment' on wall 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 CollinsTexas GOP rep opposes Trump’s use of national emergency to get border wall GOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration Talk grows that Trump will fire Dan Coats 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.