It will take just one more vote by a member of the president’s own party for the Senate to pass a resolution that would end Trump’s quest to use emergency powers to build his border wall.
Trump has vowed to use the power of his presidential veto if the measure winds up on his desk, which would be the first veto of his presidency.
President Trump – who arrived in Vietnam Tuesday – could see Congress debunk his national emergency declaration
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis on Monday night said he’d vote to block the president’s move
The GOP is in a tough spot on the matter because many Republican lawmakers had privately warned the president against using emergency powers although several don’t want to publicly rebuke him.
But Republican Sen. Thom Tillis on Monday night joined fellow GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to say he’d vote to block the president’s move.
With all 47 Democrats also voting ‘aye,’ it would only take one more Republican to secure passage. Those 51 votes would not be enough to over ride Trump’s expected veto, which takes a two-thirds majority of both chambers.
Tillis told reporters Tuesday, as he entered the Senate GOP’s weekly luncheon, that he agrees with Trump on the border wall but cannot support his use of executive action to construct it, having opposed former President Barack Obama’s power grabs in 2014 when he ran for office.
‘I want to make it clear though, that about half of what the president is allocating to the southern border, without the executive emergency action, I completely agree with,’ he explained. ‘In fact, I agree with the need for about $25 billion to go down there. I just don’t think this is the right, sustainable path.’
Asked if he’s worried that Trump’s declaration will set a ‘dangerous precedent,’ he said he is ‘always’ concerned about the long-term consequences of executive action.
‘You always worry about that. And that’s why I think it’s time for us to support the president, but do it in the right way,’ he stated.
The House is expected to pass the measure terminating Trump’s national emergency proclamation when they vote on it Tuesday evening.
Democrats have argued it’s a constitutional issue.
‘This isn’t about the border. This is about the constitution of the United States,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday evening.
She said she will send the measure to the Senate as soon as it passes the House.
Trump has made it clear he expects his party to back him on the matter.
‘I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security,’ he tweeted on Monday. ‘Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!’
But several Republican senators were coy when asked how they’d vote.
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said that he’s waiting for the legal justification and the line items of where, exactly, of where Trump plans to get his money.
‘I have not even seen what the president’s asking for yet. It’s really fascinating to me, we’re disapproving of something that no one’s actually read. Because no one’s actually seen it,’ the Republican senator said. ‘The House certainly hasn’t seen it yet. So they’re disapproving of something that currently doesn’t exist.’
Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, said the ‘larger issue’ is that Congress has ‘delegated its authority to the White House in hundreds of instances – and this is just one example.’
‘I think we need to have a bigger conversation about the separation of powers, and whether we want to delegate all this authority to the next president, as well as this president.’
He suggested that the resolution to terminate Trump’s emergency would pass, but the president would veto it, and Democratic lawmakers in the House would not be able to muster enough support to cancel it.
‘I think we’re looking at a veto, and then a veto-override vote, failed veto override vote in the House,’ the Texas Republican asserted.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrats who sometimes breaks rank to side with Republicans, said he’s voting for his party’s resolution. He wasn’t confident that Democrats could come up with a large enough coalition in the Senate to override a presidential veto.
‘That I don’t know. I feel very strongly that it’s not constitutional,’ he said.
GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (left) and Susan Collins (right) said they would vote against Trump’s national emergency declaration
House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (above), will vote to block the president’s move to build his border wall on Tuesday night
The White House is working hard to limit Republican support for the measure. Vice President Mike Pence will attend a Senate Republican luncheon on Tuesday, where the resolution is expected to be a key topic.
The battle in Congress is the latest chapter in a long-running war between Trump and Democrats over border security, immigration policy and the ‘great, great wall’ that Trump has pledged to build since becoming a presidential candidate.
He originally promised that Mexico would pay for it, but after Mexico refused, he asked U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for the project, which Democrats call unneeded and ineffective.
In his first two years in office, Trump’s Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, which under the U.S. Constitution holds the national purse strings, but lawmakers failed to provide the funding Trump wanted for his border barrier.
When Congress, with the House now controlled by Democrats, refused in recent weeks to provide the money he wants, Trump declared an emergency and vowed to divert funds toward the wall from accounts already committed by Congress for other purposes.
That set up a test of the constitutional separation of powers between Congress and the presidency that will likely lead to a court challenge after lawmakers deal with the resolution.
A coalition of 16 U.S. states led by California has already sued Trump and top members of his administration in an attempt to block his emergency declaration.
Trump declared the emergency after Congress declined his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall.
Congress this month appropriated $1.37 billion for building border barriers following a battle with Trump, which included a 35-day partial government shutdown – the longest in U.S. history – when agency funding lapsed on Dec. 22.