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Senate rejects Trump border emergency as Republicans defect

AP  |  Washington 

The Republican-run firmly rejected Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border, setting up a veto fight and dealing him a conspicuous rebuke as he tested how boldly he could ignore in pursuit of his highest-profile goal.

The voted 59-41 to cancel Trump's February proclamation of a border emergency, which he invoked to spend USD 3.6 billion more for border barriers than had approved.

Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump in a showdown many GOP senators had hoped to avoid because he commands die-hard loyalty from millions of conservative voters who could punish defecting lawmakers in next year's elections.

With the Democratic-controlled House's approval of the same resolution last month, passage sends it to Trump.

He has shown no reluctance to casting his first veto to advance his campaign exhortation, "Build the Wall," which has prompted roars at countless Trump rallies.

Approval votes in both the Senate and fell short of the two-thirds majorities that would be needed for an override to succeed.

"VETO!" Trump tweeted minutes after the vote.

Trump has long been comfortable vetoing the measure because he thinks it will endear him to his political base, said a official, commenting anonymously because the wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Though Trump seems sure to prevail in that battle, it remains noteworthy that lawmakers of both parties resisted him in a fight directly tied to his cherished campaign theme of erecting a border wall.

The roll call came just a day after the Senate took a step toward a veto fight with Trump on another issue, voting to end US support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition's war in

In a measure of how remarkable the confrontation was, Thursday was the first time has voted to block a presidential emergency since the National Emergency Act became law in 1976.

Even before Thursday's vote, there were warnings that GOP senators resisting Trump could face political consequences. A said Trump won't forget when senators who oppose him want him to attend fundraisers or provide other help. The spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on internal deliberations.

At the White House, Trump did not answer when reporters asked if there would be consequences for Republicans who voted against him.

"I'm sure he will not be happy with my vote," said moderate Sen. of Maine, a GOP defector who faces re-election next year in a state that reveres independent streaks in its politicians.

"But I'm a and feel my job to stand up for the Constitution. So let the chips fall where they may." Underscoring the political pressures in play, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., one of the first Republicans to say he'd oppose Trump's border emergency, voted Thursday to support it.

Tillis, who faces a potentially difficult re-election race next year, cited talks with the that suggest Trump could be open to restricting presidential emergency powers in the future.

Tillis wrote in a opinion column last month that there'd be "no intellectual honesty" in backing Trump after his repeated objections about overreach by

Still, the breadth of opposition among Republicans suggested how concern about his declaration had spread to all corners of the GOP. Republican senators voting for the resolution blocking Trump included of Utah, the party's 2012 presidential candidate; of Utah, a solid conservative; Trump 2016 presidential rivals of and of and of Tennessee, a respected centrist.

Republicans control the Senate 53-47.

Democrats solidly opposed Trump's declaration.

Presidents have declared 58 national emergencies since the 1976 law, but this was the first aimed at accessing money that Congress had explicitly denied, according to Elizabeth Goitein, at University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice.

Trump and Republicans backing him said there is a legitimate security and humanitarian crisis at the border with They also said Trump was merely exercising his powers under the law, which largely leaves it to presidents to decide what a national emergency is.

"The is operating within existing law, and the crisis on our border is all too real," said Senate Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Opponents said Trump's assertion of an emergency was overblown. They said he issued his declaration only because Congress agreed to provide less than USD 1.4 billion for barriers and he was desperate to fulfil his campaign promise on the wall. They said the Constitution gives Congress, not presidents, control over spending and said Trump's stretching of emergency powers would invite future presidents to do the same for their own concerns.

"He's obsessed with showing strength, and he couldn't just abandon his pursuit of the border wall, so he had to trample on the Constitution to continue his fight," said Senate Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 15 2019. 02:45 IST
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