Sen. Rand Paul will vote to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to secure billions for his border wall, clinching a bipartisan majority in opposition of the president’s move.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul (R-Ky.) said at an event in Kentucky on Saturday, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Story Continued Below
Paul becomes the fourth Republican senator to pledge to vote for the disapproval resolution when it comes up for a vote in the Senate this month, meaning the resolution will pass if Trump doesn’t withdraw the emergency. The House passed the resolution on Tuesday, with 13 Republicans siding with Democrats. Trump has vowed to veto the resolution, which would be the first of his presidency. Both the House and Senate lack the votes to override the veto.
Paul disagreed with Vice President Mike Pence over the matter at a party lunch last week, Republican senators said. Though both sides deemed it cordial afterward, Paul made an explicit case that his party was risking its claim to the political high ground on issues of constitutional consistency, and Pence pushed back against Paul’s complaints.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina also support the disapproval resolution.
On Sunday, other Republicans demonstrated the pointed disagreement within the party over whether to oppose Trump on a decision they would have blasted President Barack Obama for executing. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said on CNN that it was a “specious argument” for the GOP to argue that a future Democratic president could use Trump’s precedent to declare emergencies for liberal priorities.
“I don’t think that the president doing this is going to end Western order,” Kennedy said. “The sun will come up the next morning. I do think he is probably rethinking the situation.”
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who is aligned with the libertarian-leaning Paul on many issues, disagreed sharply on the same program.
“The president is violating our constitutional system,” Amash said. “And I don’t think Congress can grant legislative powers to the president by statute.”
Whether Trump will face even more defections in the Senate is not clear, but Paul’s decision to become the deciding vote could free other senators to voice their opposition. A significant bloc of Republicans dislike the national emergency, though some senators question whether that will translate to “yes” votes on the disapproval resolution.
One GOP senator who supports the national emergency declaration estimated that five to seven Republican would vote to disapprove, though others said the number is likely to be higher. Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mike Lee of Utah are among those deliberating over how to vote.
On Thursday, Alexander went to the Senate floor to ask the president to consider rescinding the emergency declaration, which he and other Republicans have warned is likely to get bogged down in the courts. The retiring GOP senator said that he supports Trump’s executive actions to seize money from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund and from an anti-drug account at the Defense Department, which would give Trump upwards of $5 billion for his border wall when combined with nearly $1.4 billion sent to him by Congress in February.
“If the president can avoid that dangerous precedent using money that’s already authorized, I hope he will do that,” Alexander said on Thursday. “That will help the country, I think, by respecting the Constitution, and I think it will get the wall built faster.” He declined to say how he would vote on the disapproval resolution, deeming it hypothetical.
Yet if Trump stays his course, the Senate will proceed to a vote on the resolution before the mid-March recess because it can’t be bottled up by those who oppose it. Republicans are also still studying whether the disapproval resolution can be amended.
Published at Sun, 03 Mar 2019 17:07:10 +0000