President Trump will be forced to issue the first veto of his presidency, as the GOP-controlled senate is expected to vote down his emergency declaration.
Over the weekend, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) told a crowd of approximately 200 Republicans at Western Kentucky University that he would be joining three other Senate Republicans, as well as all Democrats (and independents who caucus with Democrats) to reject the emergency President Trump declared in order to build his border wall.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said on Saturday. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
With Paul opposed to the emergency, that means 51 senators are on the record vowing to block the resolution. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) are also voting no. With those four Republicans, even Vice President Mike Pence as a tiebreaker wouldn’t be enough to stop the senate from passing the resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration.
However, assuming Trump vetoes the resolution blocking his emergency declaration, the senate will not have the two-thirds vote required to override a presidential veto. That would require 15 more Senate Republicans.
Even if President Trump’s emergency declaration became official, he would not have enough funding for the border wall. Congressional Quarterly writer John Donnelly tweeted in February that more than a third of the $6.7 billion Trump wants allocated for the border wall has already been spent. This would mean Congress would have to appropriate new money for the project. And since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has already said she wouldn’t approve one dollar of wall funding, Trump is back to square one.
BREAKING: More than a third of the federal 💰@realDonaldTrump wants to redirect to build a #BorderWall is not available. It’s been spent. Congress—including Dems—would have to approve making new 💰 available. That’s not happening. Time for a Plan B. pic.twitter.com/aSZ1LksdPY
— John M. Donnelly (@johnmdonnelly) February 22, 2019
It’s also worth noting that there’s past legal precedent preventing a president from declaring a national emergency for political reasons. As Dr. Erwin Chemerinsky — dean of the UC-Berkeley school of law — told Grit Post last month, the Supreme Court established during Harry Truman’s presidency that presidents can’t declare emergencies to move money around for non-emergency reasons. Justices ruled at the time that because the Constitution delegates the appropriation of money to Congress — not the president — Truman’s actions were unconstitutional.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.