According to the Washington Post, opponents of Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration at the Mexican border now have enough votes in the Senate to reject his attempted move to misuse presidential powers.
Because Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he can’t go along with the White House the president now faces an embarrassing loss in Congress, which may lead to his first presidential veto.
The Post reported that Paul is giving his support to a resolution that will block Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, in defiance of a warning from the president.
Paul’s announcement puts the resolution on track to passage in the Senate.
A Kentucky newspaper, the Bowling Green Daily News, reported that Paul said in a speech at the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner that he “can’t vote to give extra-Constitutional powers to the president.”
According to the newspaper, the senator said:
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress.”
“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.”
Paul is following three other Republican senators in rejecting Trump’s attempt at declaring a national emergency at the border. They are Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Thom Tillis (N.C.).
All of them have said that they agree with Democrats that the declaration is “executive overreach” and a violation of the separation of powers set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
A resolution opposing Trump’s move has already passed the Democratic-controlled House.
In order to pass the Senate it will require all 47 Democratic-voting senators plus four GOP senators, and Paul makes the fourth one. This would give it the 51 votes needed to be approved and be sent to the president for his signature.
If the resolution is approved in the Senate it will be a very embarrassing rebuke to a president who prides himself on keeping his party in line and doing his bidding.
Neither house of Congress has the two-thirds votes needed to override a threatened presidential veto, however.
If Trump vetoes the resolution it would be his first since becoming president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warning against a national emergency declaration for weeks, although he came out in support of Trump’s move late last month. McConnell faces reelection next year.
Many lawmakers in both parties are opposed to the emergency declaration. They say it violates Congress’ constitutional authority to control spending and sets a precedent for future presidents to make such declarations for their own political purposes. They also are concerned Trump would take money away from home-state military construction projects and move it to construction of the border wall.
Under the declaration, Trump would divert $3.6 billion from military construction to erect more border barriers. He’s invoking other powers to transfer an additional $3.1 billion to construction.
It’s encouraging to see that four Republicans in the Senate have backbones and are willing to stand up to Trump and oppose one of his misguided — and probably illegal — moves.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.