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Politico: House fails to override Trump veto on border emergency
House fails to override Trump veto on border emergency
March 26, 2019
The House failed on Tuesday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of legislation blocking his national emergency declaration at the border, capping off a months-long congressional battle over the president’s signature issue.
Fourteen Republicans joined all Democrats on the 248-181 vote, far short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the first veto of Trump's presidency.
Democrats are expected to either file or join an existing lawsuit to stop Trump’s action, though leadership has been mum about their next legal steps. Their effort to overturn the emergency declaration, however, could help establish the will of Congress and bolster any legal challenges.
“The President’s lawless emergency declaration clearly violates the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, and Congress will work through the appropriations and defense authorization processes to terminate this dangerous action and restore our constitutional system of balance of powers,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said in a joint statement. “We will continue to review all options to protect our Constitution and our Democracy from the President’s assault.”
Still, the failure to block Trump’s veto hands the president and his party yet another win this week following special counsel Bob Mueller’s conclusion that Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia to rig the 2016 election.
“Keeping our nation secure should be the president’s very highest priority. With President Trump, there is no question he has and will continue to carry out this priority,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said during floor debate. “He has very clearly laid out the case for a declaration for a national emergency. There is a crisis at the border.”
Trump vetoed the disapproval resolution last month, after it passed both chambers with bipartisan support in an embarrassing and unprecedented rebuke of the president.
In the House, 13 Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting Trump’s national emergency declaration, which he issued after Congress refused to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The same pack of Republicans also voted to override the presidential veto, along with Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) who was absent during the resolution vote.
The GOP defectors were mostly centrists like Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania or Will Hurd of Texas, or constitutionalists like Michigan Rep. Justin Amash and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie. But all of them were deeply concerned that Trump’s use of executive action could set a dangerous precedent for future Democratic presidents, who they worry could use a national emergency to enact priorities from climate change to gun control.
Other Republicans who backed the disapproval resolution include Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, a former member of GOP leadership; and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, a former committee chairman.
“I have been a strong supporter of funding for border security and the wall ... But like I have said, the Constitution is clear that spending originates in the Congress,” Upton said in a statement. “That’s why I voted to override the President’s veto. Using a national emergency and taking money without Congress’ sign-off is an end-around and sets an unfortunate precedent.”
“This was not the process envisioned as written in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers,” he added.
Now, some Republicans and Democrats are seeking to amend the National Emergencies Act to rein in the president’s future powers — a move that could provide some cover for GOP lawmakers who ultimately supported Trump’s declaration.
Democrats plan to hammer House Republicans who declined to block Trump’s veto and make the vote as politically painful as possible for the GOP, which had pleaded with Trump not to declare a national emergency. But many of them also acknowledged it was the only way to get the strong-willed president to avoid another government shutdown.
Pelosi and her top deputies have been billing the disapproval measure as a constitutional duty, rather than as a partisan ploy by newly emboldened Democrats who seem eager to humiliate Trump. And Democrats have also suggested that they may bring up the resolution for a vote every six months, which is allowed under the National Emergencies Act and would repeatedly pose an uncomfortable loyalty test for the GOP.
“In six months, the Congress will have another opportunity to put a stop to this President’s wrongdoing," Pelosi and Castro said in their statement.
Democrats are also pointing to the big bipartisan vote in the Senate, where 12 Republicans bucked Trump to back the resolution.
But some of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2020, including Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Cory Gardner of Colorado, voted against the measure, underscoring the fear in the GOP of standing up to Trump. Many Republicans worry about facing primary challenges and other forms of backlash for bucking Trump, especially when it comes to one of his top priorities.
In fact, Tillis — who may be facing a primary challenge next year — initially announced he opposed Trump’s emergency declaration, but ultimately didn’t support the resolution of disapproval amid intense pressure from conservatives.