In a rare rebuke of President Trump, Senate Republicans are
expected to join with Democrats today to pass a House resolution blocking the
president’s emergency declaration and redirection of other funds toward construction
of the wall. President Trump has said that he plans to veto the measure if it passes.
Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Senate and at
least five Republican senators are expected to vote against Trump on the resolution,
which has already passed the House. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who originally said
that Trump had the authority to declare an emergency, is the most recent Republican
to line up against the president. On Wednesday, Lee told Reuters,
“ For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the
executive branch. I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency
Other Republicans voting
against the measure include Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Still others,
such as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee,
Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of
Wisconsin, Ben Sasse Nebraska, and Jerry Moran of Kansas are among the
Republicans who could join them.
In an ironic claim, President Trump has announced that he
plans to use his constitutional veto power to block the resolution that rolls
back his abuse of executive authority. In a Thursday morning tweet, the
president said, “I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a
National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!”
Even though a number of Republicans are crossing the aisle
to rein the president’s attempt to bypass Congress’s constitutional authority
to appropriate funds, it does not appear that enough Republicans are willing to
stand up to Mr. Trump to override a veto.
While President Trump can win the immediate battle with a
veto, he is still likely to lose the larger battles of public opinion and
getting the wall built. Most polling shows that although voters are split on
the wall, they overwhelmingly oppose the use of a national emergency to fund
it. A Politico/Morning
Consult poll released yesterday found that 52 percent of voters oppose the
national emergency, up one percent from a month ago. Ominously for Republicans,
independents oppose the declaration by a two-to-one margin.
Even if his veto is upheld, the wall is unlikely to be built
anytime soon. The emergency declaration is a transparent attempt to avoid
compromising with congressional Democrats that almost certainly violates the
letter of the law, as well as its spirit. Sixteen
states, including several in the Southwest and along the border, have filed
a lawsuit to block Trump’s redirection of federal funds. Courts are likely to
block Trump’s executive move and halt construction of the wall for years until
the legal questions can be resolved.
As with the government shutdown, President Trump has painted
himself into a corner with no good options. The president is doubling down on
an unpopular strategy in an attempt to force through a policy that is unpopular
outside his own party and that is unlikely
to be effective at solving the illegal immigration and smuggling problems on the southern border. The fact that the wall costs billions of dollars at a
time when the federal
deficit is skyrocketing is icing on the cake.
The president is putting other Republicans in a bad position
as well. Congressional Republicans are being forced to go on record either for
an unpopular policy or against a president that is popular with the Republican
base. The first option will harm them in the next year’s general election while
the second will hinder them in their primaries.
In the end, the principled choice for Republicans should be
to stand up against the president and for the rule of law. After eight years of
criticizing President Obama’s executive abuses and rampant spending, it will be
very difficult for Trump Republicans to sign off on the president’s end-run
around Congress and debt-fueled spending binge without looking like hypocrites
in the eyes of voters around the country.