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Trump vows to veto bill that would end border emergency declaration

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump says he will veto a bill to block his national emergency declaration at the border if the Senate passes it Thursday.
  • At least nine GOP senators have announced they will vote to terminate the declaration, enough to pass it.
U.S. President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Alex Edelman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump plans to reject a bill that would block his national emergency declaration at the southern border if the Senate passes it Thursday.

"I am prepared to veto, if necessary," the president said in a tweet.

Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border last month in order to divert about $3.6 billion from military construction projects to his proposed border wall. The move came after Congress appropriated only $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion the president demanded to construct barriers on the border.

The GOP-controlled Senate is likely to approve a House-passed measure to terminate the emergency declaration on Thursday afternoon. At least nine Republican senators plan to vote for the legislation:

  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Rob Portman of Ohio

Combined with 47 Democrats, their support easily gives the Senate a simple majority needed to pass the plan. A 10th — Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — previously said he would back the measure but changed his mind Thursday. Other Republicans have criticized the emergency declaration and could vote against it.

Still, neither the Senate nor the Democratic-held House appear to have enough votes to reach the two-third majority needed to override Trump's veto.

The declaration has put Senate Republicans in a difficult spot. They are trying to balance a desire to support Trump's immigration policies, which are popular among the party's voters, with professed concerns about executive overreach.

On Wednesday, Trump tried to frame the measure as an up-or-down vote on his immigration policy, rather than his flex of executive power.

"Republican Senators are overthinking tomorrow's vote on National Emergency," he tweeted. "It is very simply Border Security/No Crime - Should not be thought of any other way."

Some Republicans looked for a way out of challenging the president's declaration. Lee proposed a bill this week to give Congress more power over future emergency declarations — but not Trump's current action.

On Wednesday afternoon, the president told Lee he would not back the plan. The GOP senator subsequently announced that "the bill does not have an immediate path forward, so I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration."

However, Trump appeared to blur his stance on Lee's proposal on Thursday morning. Referring to the White House's emergency powers, the president tweeted: "If, at a later date, Congress wants to update the law, I will support those efforts, but today's issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!! Don't vote with Pelosi!"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning pledged not to take up Lee's legislation, a move to take away a possible exit ramp for the GOP.

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Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will not take up Senate GOP legislation to curtail the emergency powers of future presidents.
  • President Donald Trump also says he won't back the plan.
  • The measure could have given Republican lawmakers political cover on Thursday, when the GOP-held Senate votes on whether to block Trump's national emergency declaration over the southern border.