Trump on brink of GOP rebellion over emergency declaration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE is facing a potential revolt among Senate Republicans over his decision to declare a national emergency to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate scraps plan to force second stopgap vote ahead of shutdown On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters MORE’s (R-Ky.) public announcement over the weekend that he will oppose Trump’s declaration ensures a resolution blocking it will be approved by the Senate after already passing the House — unless Senate Republicans can find some kind of last-minute way out of the showdown.

Republicans have been hunting for a way out of a fight over the declaration that has badly fractured the caucus, but Paul’s decision underscores the difficulty leadership faces in finding a successful exit strategy.

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Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), who is expected to oppose a resolution of disapproval, floated that Trump could be rethinking his decision given the likelihood that he’ll have to use his first veto.

“I do think he is probably rethinking the situation,” Kennedy told CNN’s "State of the Union." “I don't think the president has the votes on a straight-up vote to sustain his position. Now, if the Senate says, 'Mr. President, you don't have the authority,' as the House did, I expect the president to veto it, and we will be right back to where we are now.”

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures MORE (R-Tenn.) took the unusual step last week of publicly urging Trump to back down. He called on the president to reverse the emergency declaration and instead use transfer authorities that are already granted to him to find money for the wall.

“There is time for the president’s lawyers to take another look and determine whether we can both build the 234 miles of border wall that the president has requested and avoid this dangerous precedent,” Alexander, who is retiring at the end of the current Congress, said in a closely watched floor speech.

Alexander said Trump should find a way to let Republicans “who want to support him on border security be able to do that” while also “keeping our oath to the Constitution.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to give a resolution blocking Trump’s emergency declaration a vote before lawmakers leave for a recess on March 15. GOP aides say the vote is more likely to happen next week, giving Republicans just under two weeks of breathing room to negotiate.

Republicans in both chambers have criticized the Trump decision as an assault on Congress’s authority that could lead a Democratic president to circumvent lawmakers to take action on climate change or gun control.

Paul, who joins three other Senate Republicans so far in publicly backing the resolution of disapproval, said he couldn't support giving a president "extra-constitutional powers."

“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing,” he said, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.

In addition to Paul, GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE (Alaska) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Progressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (N.C.) have said they will join all 47 members of the Democratic Caucus in supporting a resolution blocking the emergency declaration.

Roughly a dozen GOP senators are also on the fence about the resolution, leaving open the possibility that supporters could pick up additional Republican votes. 

Alexander, despite warning that Trump’s emergency declaration was creating a “constitutional crisis,” declined to say last week if he would vote for a resolution of disapproval.

“I will announce how I’m going to vote when I know what we’re going to be voting on,” Alexander said.

“I learned a long time ago in the United States Senate it’s not wise to announce how you’re going to vote on a vote you may never have to take."

Republicans are privately discussing if they could make changes to the resolution of disapproval.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said he had not yet decided how he was going to vote and that he was waiting to see “what our other options are.”

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSondland testifies quid pro quo in Ukraine was real and widely known Dem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens Former Bush aide defends Vindman, criticizes GOP congressmen for 'defaming' him MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, added that Republicans have discussed if they could come up with an alternative, adding that he wanted to find a way to express support for border security.

“I want to express support for better borders, better border security,” he said. “If we can find a way to do that in our resolution that would be a good thing.”

Any attempts to amend the resolution of disapproval would likely face tricky procedural hurdles.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping Senate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters MORE (R-Texas) acknowledged that Republicans had discussed trying to make changes but that they had run into roadblocks and he still anticipated Trump would need to use a veto. Blunt separately signaled that the difficulty of getting new language approved the parliamentarian could box them out of making changes.

The House resolution of disapproval, approved in a 245-182 vote, has been sent to the Armed Services Committee where Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week Lawmakers expect to finish defense policy bill negotiations this week Bipartisan senators urge national security adviser to appoint 5G coordinator MORE (R-Okla.) says he does not plan to give it a hearing or a markup.

Trump has pledged to veto a resolution blocking his emergency declaration if it reaches his desk and appeared to send a recent warning shot to any Republicans weighing voting against him.

He characterized a vote for the resolution to block his emergency declaration as a “very dangerous thing” because it would undercut border security.

“I really think that Republicans that vote against border security and the wall, I think you know, I’ve been okay at predicting things, I think they put themselves at great jeopardy,” he told Fox News’s Sean Hannity.

With a resolution blocking Trump’s emergency declaration expected to fall short of overriding veto, Republicans are already turning their attention to separate legislation spawned out of an intense separation of powers debate.

A spokesman for Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Senators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech MORE (R-Utah), who has yet to say how he’ll vote, confirmed that the Utah senator is working to draft legislation but declined to provide specifics.

“[It’s] related to how emergencies can be canceled. Making it easier for Congress to cancel an emergency declaration,” the aide added.

Blunt noted that he brought up during a caucus lunch that Congress might have “overreacted” to a Supreme Court ruling in the 1980s, after which they added the requirement that a president must sign the bill and could also veto it.

And Cornyn added he would be “very interested” in legislation that reins back in “across the board” some of the authority Congress had delegated to the executive branch.

“I’m not talking about this specific instance with the border security, but I think generally speaking this has been a little bit of a wake-up call,” he said. “I’m certainly interested in talking about it.”