Senate Democrats now have enough Republican support to pass a resolution blocking President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered the last crucial vote needed to pass the resolution. In a Fox News op-ed published on Sunday, Paul wrote, “I support President Trump. I supported his fight to get funding for the wall from Republicans and Democrats alike, and I share his view that we need more and better border security.”
“However, I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate,” he added.
Rand’s guiding principal is he believes it is unfair to treat Trump differently than former President Barack Obama when it comes to executive power. Republicans like Paul railed against Obama in 2014 for his decision to bypass Congress and implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary work authorization and deportation relief to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Trump last month declared a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border and said he would divert billions to build the wall that Congress refused to fund.
“Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate,” the Kentucky senator wrote. “We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power.”
With Rand’s dissent, there are now enough Republicans in the Senate to block the president’s national emergency declaration. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have all previously said they intend to vote in favor of the joint resolution. That gives Senate Democrats the 51 votes they need to pass the resolution.
Roughly a dozen other Republicans in the Senate have expressed trepidation about the issue, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who have said that Trump’s national emergency declaration would create a “constitutional crisis” that could pave the way for a future Democratic president to declare a national emergency on climate change or income inequality.
The joint resolution, spearheaded by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), passed the House of Representatives last week in a 245-182 vote, with 13 Republicans joining Democrats.
If the measure passes in the Senate and lands on his desk, President Trump has made clear that he would veto it. Even if that happens, the resolution’s passage would be significant, considering how many Republicans would turn against the president. It also not entirely clear if Trump would follow through on his promise to veto, considering he has yet to utilize his veto power in office.
It’s not just current Republicans members of Congress who have come out in support of the resolution. Twenty-three former Republican senators and representatives as well as a bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials oppose the president’s abuse of power.
“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” wrote a group of former national security officials in a letter last week.
The group includes former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, former United Nations Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.