Congress is on a collision course with President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE over his national emergency declaration, setting the stage for the first veto of his administration.
A showdown appears all but inevitable with momentum building behind a resolution of disapproval, which clinched the votes needed to pass over the weekend and could pick up several additional Republican supporters ahead of a vote expected to take place in a matter of days.
Top Republicans signaled on Monday that they are resigned to it passing the GOP-controlled Senate, an embarrassing setback for Trump that will force him to use his first veto if he’s going to defeat the backlash from Congress.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that it’s “clear” the resolution of disapproval will pass the Senate but predicted that it would die in the House, where a vote last week fell short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto.
“I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House,” McConnell said at a press conference in Kentucky.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell, added that he thought the vote would be “close” but that the outcome was “predictable.”
And Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump’s, predicted that the president wouldn’t be actively whipping senators since the veto override was likely to fail in the House.
“I don’t think he’s calling anybody,” Graham said.
The Senate is set to vote on the resolution of disapproval before they leave town for a weeklong recess on March 15. All 47 members of the Democratic Caucus are expected to support it, and four Republicans have now offered their public backing, providing a majority.
Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment Masks and vaccines: What price freedom? MORE (R-Ky.), who has cultivated a friendship with Trump despite being a perennial thorn for leadership, became the fourth Republican to say he will side with Democrats over the weekend, warning that Trump’s emergency declaration contradicted “the will of Congress.”
“I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate,” he wrote in a Fox News op-ed.
In addition to Paul, GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Trump endorses GOP challenger to Upton over impeachment vote MORE (Alaska) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (N.C.) have said they will support a resolution of disapproval.
Roughly a dozen Republican senators remain on the fence about Trump’s emergency declaration. Underscoring the breadth of concern, the swath of undecided senators includes libertarian-leaning Republicans, moderates and typical McConnell and Trump allies.
Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal Austin, Milley to testify on Afghanistan withdrawal The Pentagon budget is already out of control: Some in Congress want to make it worse MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Monday that the emergency declaration is “dead in the water” in the Senate.
“I may vote against it because we don’t know for sure how that’s going to affect the military,” Inhofe told KRMG, an Oklahoma radio station, on Monday.
Trump announced that he would declare a national emergency to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall after Congress passed a funding bill that included $1.375 billion for physical barriers, well below the $5.7 billion the president requested.
He’s hoping to pull together roughly $8 billion for the wall by combining the money from Congress with executive actions and using the national emergency to reshuffle military construction funding.
Several undecided Republican senators said Monday that they hadn’t heard from the administration about the Senate’s vote.
“Maybe they’re considering it, hopefully,” said Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.), adding that he hadn’t heard back from the White House about his proposal calling on Trump to back down from his emergency declaration.
Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonCritical race theory becomes focus of midterms Former Georgia ethics official to challenge McBath Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ga.), another undecided senator, added that the White House had not reached out about how he would vote. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWoman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh MORE (Iowa), a member of GOP leadership who also hasn’t heard from Trump, defended the administration by noting they had sent Vice President Pence to meet with Republicans.
“They’re very much pushing it, or they wouldn’t be up here talking to the caucus,” said Grassley, who has described himself as “leaning no” on the resolution.
Trump’s emergency has placed Republicans in an untenable political bind. The party has been wary of breaking with Trump on border security, which has emerged as a lightning rod among the party’s base. But they’ve also been frank about their concerns that Trump is setting up a legal precedent a future Democratic president could use to jam through policies Republicans are opposed to.
McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, illustrated the political tightrope Monday by saying that while he was supporting Trump’s emergency declaration, he had also unsuccessfully lobbied the president against choosing the controversial step.
McConnell told reporters that he was “hoping the president would not take the national emergency route.”
“Yeah, I am, that’s one reason I argued, obviously without success, to the president that he not take this route,” McConnell added, asked if he was concerned about a future Democratic president using the precedent.
Republicans are trying to work through if they can make changes to the resolution of disapproval to make it more palatable to their caucus, but are basically in uncharted territory. Lawmakers previously threatened to challenge former President George W. Bush’s 2005 emergency declaration, but he backed down.
McConnell noted Monday that they are consulting the parliamentarian.
“It’s never been done before,” McConnell said. “We’ve been looking and talking … about what options there are if any.”
Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, added that the resolution is “so narrow that I don’t think that’s a realistic possibility.”
“We’re not the final vote yet,” Blunt added. “I’d still like to see the president take another course if he could.”