Trump vetoes congressional resolution blocking his emergency declaration on border wall

March 15, 2019

President Donald Trump was forced to issue his first veto in office on Friday after 12 Republican senators voted to support a resolution blocking his national emergency to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The veto reflects a rift between Trump and his party on his central campaign promise.

Trump issues first veto

Surrounded by a group including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the parents of children killed by illegal immigrants, Trump issued the first veto of his presidency in the Oval Office.

“Today I am vetoing this resolution,” Trump said. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it.”

Trump moved ahead with a national emergency last month after failing to secure funding through Congress over the course of a protracted government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. Congress coughed up little over $1 billion, far less than the nearly $6 billion Trump has been seeking for the wall. Now, once again, Trump’s wall was blocked by Congress, this time through a resolution denying his emergency powers.

Trump attempted to salvage support for the national emergency this week in talks with Republican senators and with admonitions on Twitter, but those efforts failed to sway the dozen Republicans who voted with the Democrats on Thursday to block Trump’s emergency in a 59-41 vote. The president swiftly vowed to shoot down the resolution after the Republicans helped pass it Thursday, tweeting simply: “VETO!”

The Republicans who broke with Trump included Sens. Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Lee (UT), Rob Portman (OH), Susan Collins, (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Marco Rubio (FL), Rand Paul (KY), Lamar Alexander (TN), Roger Wicker (MS), Roy Blunt (MO), Jerry Moran (KS), and Pat Toomey (PA). Sen. Thom Tillis (NC) changed his vote to support Trump after initially saying he would vote for the resolution.

“Congress should declare war and Congress should spend the money. I mean, those are two bedrock constitutional principles,” Sen. Paul said, explaining his vote against the White House. “It has nothing to do with the president, it has to do with the Constitution.”

GOP splits with Trump

The Senate’s rebuke came after the House passed the same resolution last month, with 13 Republicans siding with the Democrats. However, Trump’s Friday veto will likely hold, as an override would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress.

Trump rejected compromise legislation from Sen. Lee that would have blocked the president from invoking future national emergencies. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that he would support future changes to the National Emergency Act, but the defection was already underway.

The veto reflects differences in priority between President Trump and the party establishment, which has hobbled his immigration agenda. Fissures between Trump and the party establishment have dogged his presidency practically from the start, but differences came to a head this week with the border resolution as well as a vote on legislation to pull the U.S. out of Yemen’s civil war.

Trump vowed to veto that resolution before the Senate passed it in another rebuke to the president. The bill was seen as a response to Trump’s inaction on the controversy surrounding the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

But while some members of the GOP aren’t standing by the president, Trump is grateful for those in his party that have remained loyal.

“I have to, in particular, thank Republicans, strong Republican senators that were on our side and on the side of border security,” Trump said Friday, adding that the vote for the resolution was “a vote against reality.” He later thanked the “great Republican senators” again in a tweet.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.