Senate seems to have votes to reject Trump’s emergency declaration; Utah senators remain undecided

A woman waiting for a bus in Nogales, Mexico, is framed by a razor-wire-covered border wall separating it from Nogales, Ariz., Saturday, March 2, 2019. | Associated Press photo by Charlie Riedel, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — Opponents of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border appear to have enough Senate votes to reject his move after Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky announced over the weekend that he can’t go along with the declaration.

The House voted to derail the action on Tuesday by a vote of 245-182, with all House Democrats – including Salt Lake City Rep. Ben McAdams – voting in favor of the resolution, as well as 13 Republicans. Despite Utah Rep. Chris Stewart stating in mid-February that he believed Trump was “making a mistake by declaring a national emergency” and Rep. John Curtis introducing the Guarding Congressional Authority Act on Wednesday, both Republican congressmen, as well as Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, voted against the resolution.

If the Senate follows the House’s action, the measure would go to Trump for his promised veto. Besides Paul, three other Republican senators have announced they’ll vote in favor of the resolution: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Paul makes it four, and assuming that all 47 Democrats and their independent allies go against Trump, that would give opponents 51 votes — just past the majority needed.

As to Utah senators, Sen. Mitt Romney has yet to release a statement as to how he might vote; however, Sen. Mike Lee did go so far as to say on Friday he’s undecided on whether to support the resolution.

Lee addressed gatherings of Utah legislators in the state Capitol in Salt Lake City, saying he agrees with Trump that there’s “a crisis at the border” but that he objects to the president’s use of executive authority to sidestep Congress and divert federal funding to spend money on building border barriers.

“It’s probably not a good idea to give presidents that much power,” Lee said.

Paul had similar sentiments to make over the weekend leading up to his announcement.

“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said at a GOP dinner Saturday night at Western Kentucky University, according to the Bowling Green (Ky.) 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.”

Many lawmakers opposed to the emergency declaration say it tramples Congress’ constitutional power to control spending and would set a precedent for future Democratic presidents to make such a declaration for their own purposes.

“It deeply worries me that a future Democratic President may consider gun violence or climate change a ‘national emergency’ and what actions they may then take,” Stewart said in a press statement on Feb. 14. “While I agree we must secure our borders and provide increased security, we must limit the power of the Executive to make such declarations.”

Read more: Stewart denounces socialism, defends criticism of Trump’s emergency order during St. George town hall

They also are concerned Trump would siphon money from home-state projects to barrier construction.

Under the declaration, Trump would divert $3.6 billion from military construction to erect more border barriers. He’s invoking other powers to transfer an additional $3.1 billion to construction.

According to a report from The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday said that he expects the resolution to pass the Senate, but he does not believe lawmakers will be able to override the veto by the president.

“I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House,” McConnell said while speaking to reporters in Kentucky.

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution before March 15, which will be the beginning of a weeklong recess.

Written by The Associated Press.

St. George News contributed to this report with statements from the offices of Reps. Chris Stewart and John Curtis.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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