WASHINGTON--In a rebuke of the president, the Senate voted 59-41 to pass legislation Thursday afternoon rejecting President Trump's national emergency declaration concerning the U.S.-Mexico border. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in voting to pass the resolution.
The president issued his emergency declaration as a way to free up funding to build his long-promised wall along the southern border after Congress refused to provide the $5 billion he originally requested. New budget requests now put that total dollar amount at over $8 billion.
When the bill moves to the president's desk, Mr. Trump will likely issue his first veto of his presidency. "I look forward to vetoing" the resolution, he tweeted Thursday.
He told reporters in an Oval Office ceremony, "I'll probably have to veto. And it's not going to be overturned. And we're going to have our whole thing. It's been — the legal scholars all say it's totally constitutional. It's very important it's really a border security vote. It's pure and simple it's a vote for border security, it's a vote for no crime."
The House passed its version of the resolution last week, largely along party lines.
Leading up to Thursday's vote, many senators, including Republicans, called out the president's order as an abuse of emergency powers, claiming it could set a dangerous precedent.
"It's a question about the balance of power that is core to our constitution," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters on Thursday. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, in a speech on the Senate floor echoed his colleague, saying "This declaration is a dangerous precedent."
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, meanwhile said that while he supports Mr. Trump's goals of securing the border, "this continues our country down the path of all-powerful executive – something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of."
In an apparent flip, just moments before the Senate's vote, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, announced that he would vote for the resolution -- a change in his position from when he wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that he could not support the national emergency declaration. Tillis had written that as a conservative he couldn't endorse a precedent that "future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his colleagues, "The beauty of this government demands that we rise to the occasion this afternoon."
"Let's keep our government with the same balance of power that has served us so well for the past two centuries," he added.
Tillis released the following statement on the vote:
My statement on the National Emergency vote:
I agree with President Trump that there is a crisis at our southern border and have always supported his desire to build new infrastructure and barriers.
The concerns I’ve raised were never about what President Trump is trying to accomplish but rather with setting a precedent that a future Democratic president would exploit to bypass Congress to implement policies well outside the mainstream.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve met with the Vice President and senior White House staff to build consensus on amending the National Emergencies Act to prevent a future left-wing president from misusing their authority. I’m incredibly encouraged by the historic commitment from the President to restore proper balance between the executive and legislative branches.
While the Trump Administration is working in good-faith with Congress to amend the National Emergencies Act, Democratic leaders have outright rejected attempts to do so, in addition to calling the dire situation at the southern border a ‘manufactured crisis.’
In the coming weeks, I’ll continue to work with the White House and my Republican colleagues on a long-term solution, and I hope some of my Democratic colleagues will join us.