WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted again on Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the southern U.S. border.
The Senate voted 54-41 to end the declaration, delivering a rebuke that’s likely to be symbolic. Both chambers of Congress already voted to block the resolution, but the effort failed after the U.S. House failed to override Trump’s veto in March. The White House is expected to veto the resolution again.
Eleven Republicans joined Senate Democrats this week in voting to block Trump from circumventing Congress to obtain funding for a controversial border wall. The National Emergencies Act allows Democrats to seek a vote on repealing the emergency declaration every six months. The resolution disapproval requires a simple majority to pass the Senate.
The list of Senate Republicans who broke ranks was nearly identical to the roster that opposed Trump’s declaration in March. They were: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida voted to block the emergency declaration in March, but missed the vote Wednesday. His office said he would have voted again to block the emergency declaration.
Congressional Democrats and other Trump critics have slammed their GOP colleagues for bypassing the legislative branch and allowing the administration to divert funds for military projects in their home states. The Defense Department announced it would delay or suspend 127 military construction projects to help fund a $3.6 billion wall.
Those projects include $30 million for a ground transport equipment building at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, $8 million for a space control facility at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, $80.3 million for North Carolina military projects, and many others.
Democrats have pointed to those stalled projects in an attempt to put pressure on some of the more vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2020, including Sens. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Each of them sided again with Trump in Wednesday’s vote. North Carolina’s Richard Burr also voted “no.”
Ahead of the March vote, Tillis penned an op-ed saying he planned to vote against Trump. “As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.” He later changed his mind, citing a “crisis” at the border.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote Wednesday that siding with Trump “is a vote in favor of cutting funding for our military and slashing support for critical military projects in red states as well as blue.”
More importantly, he said, lawmakers should terminate the emergency declaration on constitutional grounds. Trump, he said, has “trampled” on Congress’ constitutionally granted power of the purse.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who’s also facing a tough re-election campaign in 2020, spoke out against Trump’s emergency declaration ahead of the Wednesday vote.
“The question is simply this: should the Congress of the United States of America yield its constitutionally prescribed power of the purse to the president? And the answer to that question, regardless of who is in the White House and who is controlling Congress, should be no,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) again backed Trump on the matter, saying the president’s declaration was “squarely within existing law” and that Democrats had failed to give the “very real crisis” on the border the resources it required.
“Senate Democrats are making us repeat the same show vote again,” McConnell said.
Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for the States Newsroom network, of which Policy Watch is a member.