Trump vetoes bill passed by U.S. Senate to end his declared border emergency

U.S. President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding.

Democratic-controlled House isn't expected to have enough support to override veto but court challenges loom

U.S. President Donald Trump signs the first veto of his presidency in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday. The veto overturns a Senate bill that would have ended the border emergency that Trump earlier declared. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding.

Flanked by law enforcement officials and the parents of children killed by people in the country illegally, Trump maintained that he is not through fighting for his signature campaign promise, which stands largely unfulfilled 18 months before voters decide whether to grant him another term.

"Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution," Trump said. "And I have the duty to veto it."

A dozen defecting Republicans joined Senate Democrats in approving the joint resolution on Thursday, which capped a week of confrontation with the White House as both parties in Congress strained to exert their power in new ways.

A dozen Republicans had joined Senate Democrats in approving the joint resolution on Thursday, but together they did not reach the two-thirds majority that would be required to override Trump's veto. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

It is unlikely that Congress will have the two-thirds majority required to override Trump's veto, though House Democrats have suggested they would try nonetheless.

Trump wants to use the emergency order to divert billions of federal dollars earmarked for defence spending toward the southern border wall. It still faces several legal challenges from Democratic state attorneys general and environmental groups who argue the emergency declaration was unconstitutional.

"It is a tremendous national emergency," Trump said. "Our immigration system is stretched beyond the breaking point."

Legal challenges 

Those cases could block Trump from diverting extra money to barrier construction for months or longer. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed one of the cases, said the veto is meaningless — like the declaration in the first place.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Friday the chamber will vote on March 26 on overriding Trump's border emergency veto. She called Trump's move a "lawless power grab."

"Congress has rejected the president's declaration, and now the courts will be the ultimate arbiter of its legality," she said in a statement.

Trump is expected to issue his second veto in the coming weeks over a congressional resolution seeking to end U.S. backing for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The resolution was approved in the aftermath of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

with files from Reuters