U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said Thursday that Congress had “no choice” but to vote to overturn President Trump’s emergency declaration on border security.
The Republican-led Senate delivered a stinging rebuke to Trump by voting to approve a resolution to end the national emergency he declared at the southern U.S. border.
The chamber voted 59-41 with 12 Republicans siding with Democrats to approve the resolution already passed by the Democratic-led House. The vote marks a symbolic defeat for Trump, who has said he’ll veto the resolution when it heads to his desk.
Trump’s opposition is likely to kill the effort — congressional lawmakers aren’t expected to be able to muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override a White House veto.
But Cardin, speaking at length on the Senate floor, applauded the effort.
“Congress has a responsibility to rein in the president’s abuse of power, in order to maintain the proper separation of powers and checks and balances under our Constitution,” he told his colleagues.
Cardin said Trump is fully aware that there is no national emergency.
“President Trump admitted, in announcing this so-called emergency in the Rose Garden, that: ‘I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.’
“It doesn’t sound like a national emergency. We know that a medieval border wall would be a tremendously wasteful expenditure of resources, as opposed to smarter border security technology that would enhance screening at our ports of entry and specifically target transnational criminal operations smuggling contraband into the United States.”
The size of the Republican vote was somewhat surprising, because only four had pledged to oppose it beforehand. The 12 GOP senators who voted against Trump: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The fate of the resolution in the Senate has been one of the most closely watched political dramas on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. Republicans have faced steady pressure from Trump to oppose the effort to hamstring his emergency declaration.
Trump took to Twitter today to defend the legality of his declaration, which seeks to bypass Congress to obtain funding for a controversial border wall.
“Prominent legal scholars agree that our actions to address the National Emergency at the Southern Border and to protect the American people are both CONSTITUTIONAL and EXPRESSLY authorized by Congress,” Trump wrote.
“A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” he added.
One of the most surprising votes on the Senate floor Thursday came from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who had previously declared that he’d vote to end the national emergency declaration.
The senator penned an op-ed last month saying he planned to vote against Trump. “As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.”
He later changed his mind, citing a “crisis” at the border Thursday. He welcomed statements from Trump and from the administration that the White House planned to work with Congress to make changes to the National Emergencies Act.