WASHINGTON - Senate opponents of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border moved within a hair Thursday of having enough votes to prevail, and one Republican suggested he could face a rejection by the GOP-led chamber if he doesn't change course. Trump's move would "turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis," veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander said on the Senate floor. But he stopped just short of saying he'd support a resolution blocking the president's move. Had Alexander pledged his vote, it would probably be enough for the Senate to pass a measure repealing the emergency declaration. Speaking later to reporters, Alexander, R-Tenn., warned about what might happen if Trump doesn't settle for using other money he can access without declaring an emergency.
President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. WASHINGTON – Senate opponents of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border have moved very close to having enough votes to prevail, and one Republican suggested the president risks a rebuff by the GOP-led chamber if he doesn't change course. Trump's move would "turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis," veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander said on the Senate floor Thursday. But he stopped just short of saying he'd support a resolution blocking the president's move. Had Alexander pledged his vote, it would probably be enough for the Senate to pass a measure repealing the emergency declaration.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution ending the bogus state of emergency President Trump declared in order to to speed construction of his "big, beautiful wall" on the southern border. The measure is sure to pass the Democratic-controlled House, but it won't get much farther unless it receives strong support from members of Trump's party too. Republicans who style themselves as "constitutional conservatives" or who simply want to protect their institution against encroachment need to vote with Democrats to rein in their overreaching president. Introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the one-sentence-long resolution would stop Trump from rerouting billions of dollars from previously approved military construction projects to the wall. Congress gave the president the power in 1976 to declare emergencies, but it also retained the power to end them rapidly if it saw fit.
A version of this piece first appeared on the blog Impeachable Offenses. The looming question in the ongoing government shutdown is whether President Donald Trump will, as he repeatedly threatens, declare a "national emergency" to get funding for his border wall if Congress will not pass budgetary authorization for the edifice. Multiple excellent analyses of a president's legal authority to declare such emergencies have appeared. The upshot of all of them is that the administration could make superficially plausible arguments for such authority but that all such arguments would trigger compelling legal challenges. Moreover, a use of "emergency" powers to circumvent congressional unwillingness to fund a long-wished-for presidential pet project would be both unprecedented and a serious challenge to constitutional separation of powers norms.
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump suffered an embarrassing defeat Thursday at the hands of US senators, including fellow Republicans, who voted to terminate his declaration of an emergency on the border with Mexico. Trump's response was swift and unequivocal: "VETO!" he tweeted after a dozen Republicans joined Democrats in voting down the emergency, declared as a way to secure alternative funding for the border wall denied to him by Congress. Opponents had argued that Trump's emergency amounted to executive overreach, saying a vote to curtail his authority would preserve the constitutionally mandated separation of powers in Washington. Half a dozen Republicans had already spoken out publicly against the February declaration. But on the morning of the vote, the simmering revolt grew to 12 Republicans, and the final tally was a resounding 59 to 41. Trump had made clear he planned to use his veto powers to override any congressional block, after failing to strong-arm enough Republicans into line.