Trump vows to veto bill passed by U.S. Senate to end border emergency

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to terminate President Donald Trump's declaration of an emergency at the southern border and will now send the legislation to Trump, who has vowed to veto the measure.

Republican defections enough to pass bill, but fall short of two-thirds majority needed to override veto

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will override Congress on the border emergency bill that was passed in the Senate Thursday after passing in the House of Representatives. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to terminate President Donald Trump's declaration of an emergency at the southern border and will now send the legislation to Trump, who has vowed to veto the measure.

The bill passed by a vote of 59-41.

Republican opposition grew as Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mitt Romney of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said they would join five other Republicans voting to back the measure passed in February by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats. At least four Republicans were needed to pass it in the 100-seat Senate, along with all 45 Democrats and two independents.

But the measure is unlikely to become law given that a two-thirds vote of Congress is needed to override a presidential veto, which Trump vowed to issue if it passed the chamber Thursday.

"I'll do a veto. It's not going to be overturned," Trump told reporters. "It's a border security vote."

He did not answer questions about whether there would be consequences for Republicans who vote against him.

Speaking Thursday after the vote, a House Democratic leadership aide said the U.S. House of Representatives will likely attempt on March 26 to override Trump's veto.

The vote represents a remarkable break between Trump and Senate Republicans. It's the first time Congress has used its power to reject a presidential emergency order.

On the Senate floor, Alexander — one of the chamber's more respected lawmakers — said Trump's emergency action was "inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution that I took an oath to support," citing the power Congress has to control spending.

Romney, his party's 2012 presidential nominee, used a written statement to call Trump's declaration "an invitation to further expansion and abuse by future presidents."

'Trample on the Constitution'

The other Republican senators who said they would vote to block Trump's border emergency are Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Kentucky's Rand Paul.

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. The stalemate led to a 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January.

Debris from a prototype for Trump's proposed wall is demolished to make way for a new section of actual border fencing near San Diego, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, on Feb. 27. (Jorge Duenes/Reuters)

Under the emergency declaration Trump signed on Feb. 15, he would take money from other federal programs to build the barrier he says is needed.

Democrats deny there is an emergency at the border.

They said Trump issued his declaration only because Congress agreed to provide less than $1.4 billion for barriers and he was desperate to fulfil his campaign promise to "build the wall." 

"He's obsessed with showing strength, and he couldn't just abandon his pursuit of the border wall, so he had to trample on the Constitution to continue his fight," said Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Under a four-decade-old law, presidents have wide leeway in declaring a national emergency. Congress can vote to block a declaration, but the two-thirds majorities required to overcome presidential vetoes make it hard for lawmakers to prevail. Presidents have never before declared an emergency after Congress voted to deny them money for the same purpose.

Court challenges have also been filed asserting it is Congress, not the president, that decides how taxpayer money is spent.

With files from The Associated Press


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