Members of the Senate GOP caucus are now desperately trying to curb the president’s emergency powers according to a report this morning in The Hill.
The new effort arose after Donald Trump’s veto on Friday of congressional resolution blocking his declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Neither house of Congress is expected to have the two-thirds votes needed to override a presidential veto.
The move by Senate Republicans is likely to create a new conflict with not only House Democrats but also Trump’s White House.
Because the president can veto legislation, and because overriding the veto is unlikely, Republicans are now united in believing that the existing laws give the president too much power.
Democrats agree with this, but they are seeking a different solution than what the Senate is proposing.
Republicans are now have set their sights on making it easier to terminate future emergency declarations by presidents.
“It’s an institutional issue, it’s a congressional authorities issue. We have the power of the purse,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “Under the National Emergencies Act, there was too much latitude that was given away … and we need to pull that back some and let it be used for legitimate national security purposes.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) maintains that there is “unanimity” in the Senate GOP caucus about changing existing law. The fight over Trump’s emergency declaration to build a Mexican border wall has brought to the surface the serious constitutional problems the current law creates.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to write draft legislation that would garner the 60 votes needed for a bill to defeat a filibuster and ultimately pass the Senate.
Under the current law — called the National Emergencies Act — Congress is able to vote on a “resolution of disapproval” if they want to block a presidential emergency declaration.
The president, however, can veto the resolution of disapproval, which makes it meaningless unless Congress can muster the votes for an override of the veto, which is very difficult.
According to The Hill, even Republican senators who voted with Trump on the emergency declaration want to address the broader constitutional issue of presidential powers.
“I would like to revisit the emergency powers that Congress has provided to the executive branch,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who voted with Trump. “I do think it’s going to be a healthy debate to have.”
McConnell told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch on Thursday that there was “a lot of discomfort with the current law” among Republicans. He also announced that they are “discussing ways it could be altered.”
“If Congress has grown uneasy with this law, as many have, then we should amend it,” said McConnell.
“I don’t know of any president that likes to give up power, but clearly Congress has been asleep at the switch,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) added that “there is a lot of people, myself included, who believe that the National Emergencies Act . . . needs to be reformed.”
Trump has said he could support making future changes to the National Emergencies Act, even though he refused to accept a deal earlier last week.
Democrats are suing Trump in court and plan more future votes that will challenge his emergency declaration for the wall.
Sources say the House will hold vote to override Trump’s veto on March 26. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will force a vote on blocking Trump’s national emergency every six months.
“We’ve got to be real careful and whether it’s legislatively or in court, fight him every step of the way,” Schumer said.
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.
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