On Wednesday, in a 54-41 vote that included 11 Republicans, the Senate blocked President Trump’s emergency declaration to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The decision to declare an emergency represents a strategic move by the president to allocate funding for the border wall without having to garner approval from Congress, who controls the budget.
This is the second time the Senate has voted to end the president’s emergency declaration over the border wall, the first time being in February when 12 Republicans sided with Senate Democrats in voting to block the action.
Under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, Congress can issue a vote to block the emergency declaration every six months.
Despite Wednesday’s action, however, Senate Democrats still failed to obtain the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto expected to follow as a result.
Earlier this month, the Department of Defense diverted $3.6 billion away from other military construction projects across 14 states in order to fund the border wall.
While the recent Senate action will stop the President’s declaration from taking immediate effect, it is unlikely to actually stop construction along the southern border.
Rather, Wednesday’s vote represents an effort by Senate Democrats to force Republicans to take a stance on border wall funding, as several Republicans represent states that had funds diverted as a result of border wall construction.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the 11 dissenting Republicans representing a state with diverted funds, expressed his concerns earlier this month saying, “Funding the border wall is an important priority, and the Executive Branch should use the appropriate channels in Congress, rather than divert already appropriated funding away from military construction projects.”
Other Republican senators who voted to end the declaration include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Susan Collins said her decision to vote against the declaration had nothing to do with her feelings towards the border wall or the President.
Rather, she attributed her decision to vote as she did to President Trump’s decision to bypass Congress in order to garner funding for the wall.
“Let me be clear: the question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the president. Rather, it is: do we want the Executive Branch – now or in the future – to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?” Collins said of the matter.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged Republicans “to vote for border security and vote against Democrats’ resolution,” who he described as being “unwilling to work with the President and Republicans on a long-term bipartisan solution for border security.”
By contrast, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described Congress’ action to block the declaration as one spoken with a “bipartisan voice.”
“Here in the Senate, we just sent a strong message to President Trump that under our Constitution, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are co-equal,” Schumer then continued.
Both Texas Senators John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R) voted with the majority of Senate Republicans in support of President Trump’s emergency declaration.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.