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 TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash 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 ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet 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 CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump 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.