Senate votes to rebuke president's emergency declaration

Posted March 15, 2019

"The biggest concern is that it's very, very important that we honor the constitutional responsibility that is assigned to Congress to determine spending", Toomey said. "The president can certainly express his views as he has and individual senators can express theirs".

Republicans who defected by supporting the measure to end the emergency declaration are anxious that presidents - including future Democratic ones - could usurp the power of Congress to fund the government and use the tactic to pass their own pet programs. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in halting USA backing for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the aftermath of the kingdom's role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Neither chamber mustered the two-thirds support required to override a presidential veto.

The result is a role-reversal for Republicans who have been reluctant to take on Trump, bracing against his high-profile tweets and public attacks of reprimand.

Presidents have declared 58 national emergencies since the 1976 law, but this was the first aimed at accessing money that Congress had explicitly denied, according to Elizabeth Goitein, co-director for national security at New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice.

Citing a US Supreme Court ruling two decades ago in a case involving alleged sexual misconduct by President Bill Clinton, a majority of judges on the panel said presidents can be sued in state courts over things they did that aren't related to their official duties.

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In a migrant shelter in the southern Mexican city of Tenosique, near the Guatemalan border, a refugee from Honduras says he originally planned to move to the United States with his family. Lee said on Wednesday the White House had subsequently made clear his bill did "not have an immediate path forward".

Romney said his vote is not a vote against border security. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump in a showdown many GOP senators had hoped to avoid because he commands die-hard loyalty from millions of conservative voters who could punish defecting lawmakers in next year's elections.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks down the U.S Capitol steps with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after they both attended the 37th annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2019. He blamed the media for "reaching" to view every action "through the prism of the presidency, and that isn't necessarily the way it works here".

At stake are billions of dollars in funding for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border that Trump is demanding but Congress has refused to fully provide.

Congress declined and the result was the longest shutdown in US history. He added that Trump administration "already has $4.5 billion available within existing authority to fund a barrier - even without an emergency declaration".

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The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, and lawmakers seethed as they anxious about losing money for military projects that had already been approved for bases at home and overseas. The votes by the House and Senate to reject Trump's declaration may be helpful to those fighting in court to overturn it.

Many Senate Republicans aren't as sure.

But re-apportioning military money is a prickly undertaking, and several lawmakers from both parties have warned against it. That would give senators some solace as they allowed Trump's order to stand. GOP senators huddled with Vice-President Mike Pence and seemed optimistic the White House might support their plan.

"If, at a later date, Congress wants to update the law, I will support those efforts", Trump tweeted.

Funnily enough, Trump has signaled that he might support such legislation in the future-although it's even harder to take him at his word here than usual, as he cut such legislation off at the knees only yesterday.

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Thom Tillis of North Carolina changed his mind minutes before the vote and said he would oppose it.

In a commentary in The Washington Post on February 25, Tillis had written: "As a US senator, I can not justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress". But on Thursday, he did.

Note to Republicans in Congress: No matter how narrow a definition of an emergency you write, presidents will find a way to fit the facts to the definition.

For some, he said, "the emergency declaration was just a bridge too far".

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