The Republican-controlled Senate failed on Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration he has used to pay for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Trump announced the emergency in February after failing to persuade Congress to appropriate additional funding to build the wall, one of his main campaign promises in 2016. Congress then rejected it and Trump responded with his first veto. By law, Congress can try to block the declaration every six months but has failed to override the President’s decree.
Thursday’s vote was 53-36 to reject the emergency declaration, well short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto in the Senate. Ten Republicans sided with 43 Democrats, including GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The Pentagon has already authorized the diversion of $3.6 billion from 127 military construction projects around the world to pay for 11 wall projects on the US southern border. Senate Democrats have highlighted specific projects the Trump administration is expected to delay, including schools for the children of military families, European Deterrence Initiative projects aimed to deter Russia, and hundreds of millions of dollars for projects in Puerto Rico and Guam.
“The President’s emergency declaration is an unconstitutional power grab,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, on Thursday.
In a message sent to the Senate earlier this week, Trump wrote, “the situation on our southern border remains a national emergency, and our Armed Forces are still needed to help confront it.”
He added that the Senate resolution would “impair the government’s capacity to secure the Nation’s southern borders against unlawful entry and to curb the trafficking and smuggling that fuels the present humanitarian crisis.”
The vote comes ahead of a crucial government spending deadline on November 21.
Senate Republicans also blocked a joint resolution disapproving of the Trump administration’s decision to replace former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the new Affordable Clean Energy rule, which doesn’t mandate a shift away from coal plants, but instead seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through state and industry initiatives. The vote was 41 to 53.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the Clean Power Plan a “dangerous, misguided policy that the Trump administration has rightly done away with” and a “job-killing scheme.”
Three Democrats – Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – voted against the resolution. Manchin said the vote put “politics over solutions” and criticized both rules in favor of “developing and deploying the technologies vital to solving climate change, from carbon capture and utilization and solar power to energy efficiency and storage technologies.”
One Republican – Collins – voted for the disapproval resolution.
Collins, who is up reelection next year, said in a statement that the Trump administration rule is “a step in the wrong direction,” calling climate change “a significant risk that threatens Maine’s working forests, fishing, and agricultural industries, as well as tourism and recreation and our coastal communities.”