Senate votes to block Trump's national emergency

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN
7:00 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019
11:34 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Trump admits he "will probably have to veto" the resolution

President Trump, speaking to reporters in the White House, said he will "probably have to veto" a resolution that would block his national emergency.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this afternoon.

"I don't know what the vote will be. It doesn't matter. I will probably have to veto," Trump said.

If he does veto the legislation, it would be his first as President.

11:19 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Trump's tweet is "too little, too late," GOP aide says

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Senate Republicans were caught off guard by President Trump’s tweet that he would support future changes to limit his authority on national emergencies, according to multiple aides — but it’s unlikely it will have a significant effect on the final vote count. 

“Too little, too late,” one senior GOP aide said.

It may sway a few on-the-fence senators, but the resolution is still expected to pass with a number of GOP defections.

Shortly after the President’s tweet, Sen. Mitt Romney announced he would support the resolution to terminate the national emergency. Sen. Lamar Alexander then came to the floor and called Trump’s declaration “inconsistent with the United States Constitution that I took an oath to support and defend.” An aide later told CNN he would also support the resolution to terminate the national emergency declaration. 


10:54 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Ted Cruz was part of the last-ditch effort to lobby Trump

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Sarah Westwood and Betsy Klein

Sen. Ted Cruz

After spending Wednesday trying (unsuccessfully) to schedule a meeting with President Trump, a trio of Republican senators went the the White House last night to present Trump with a proposal related to his national emergency declaration. 

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz were among the group of three senators who visited the President last night at the White House in a last-ditch effort to discuss concerns about the upcoming vote on his emergency declaration, sources familiar with the meeting confirmed to CNN.

The GOP lawmakers had tried earlier in the day to get an audience with Trump so they could discuss the vote, but White House staff prevented the meeting from taking place.

10:50 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Trump now says he would support future changes to the National Emergency Act. He's rejected them before.

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Betsy Klein

President Trump, in a reversal, said in a tweet Tuesday he would support future changes to the National Emergency Act. 

"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!” Trump tweeted.

What this is all about: Republican senators have attempted to get Trump to commit to a bill to limit the President’s authorities on national emergencies in the future, but he has rejected those efforts.

Had Trump agreed, GOP senators predicted Republican defections on the resolution to terminate the national emergency would drop significantly. 

What it means: It’s completely unclear what, if any, effect the tweet will have on the vote total, which has been trending away from the President. The tweet, which followed a fresh veto threat on the resolution earlier this morning, caught Senate GOP aides off guard. 

10:44 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Mitt Romney will vote for the resolution: "This is a vote for the Constitution"

From CNN's Dana Bash


Sen. Mitt Romney will vote for the resolution to block President Trump's national emergency.

"This is a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core," he said in a statement. "For the Executive Branch to override a law passed by Congress would make it the ultimate power rather than a balancing power."

Romney noted that his vote is not one "against border security," and he said he agrees there needs to be a physical barrier on the border.

Here's his full statement:

“I will vote today for the resolution of disapproval. This is a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core. For the Executive Branch to override a law passed by Congress would make it the ultimate power rather than a balancing power.
 “This is not a vote against border security. In fact, I agree that a physical barrier is urgently needed to help ease the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, and the administration already has $4.5 billion available within existing authority to fund a barrier – even without an emergency declaration.
 “I am seriously concerned that overreach by the Executive Branch is an invitation to further expansion and abuse by future presidents. We experienced a similar erosion of congressional authority with President Obama’s unilateral immigration orders – which I strenuously opposed. In the case before us now, where Congress has enacted specific policy, to consent to an emergency declaration would be both inconsistent with my beliefs and contrary to my oath to defend the Constitution.”
10:35 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Today's vote could happen after lunch (but that's not official yet)

From CNN's Mattingly

If you're wondering when this vote will kick off today, note that nothing is official until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announces it on the floor.

That said, aides in both parties say the target is in the early afternoon — sometime after lunch.

One more note on timing: This will be the last vote before a week-long congressional recess. Senators don't want to prolong this process any longer than they procedurally have to. 

10:12 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Lindsey Graham visited Trump last night to talk about the national emergency

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Sen. Lindsey Graham and two other GOP senators visited President Trump last night at the White House to discuss concerns about the national emergency declaration vote, a source familiar with the meeting confirmed to CNN.

The visit came as some Republican senators prepare to join Democrats in rejecting Trump’s use of emergency powers, and after some GOP lawmakers tried yesterday and into last night to convince Trump to support some kind of proposal that would assuage concerns about future abuse of executive authority.

There is anxiety ahead of the vote today as White House aides brace for the resolution of disapproval to pass. Aides don’t know how many Republicans will break with Trump, but one White House official said they don’t anticipate more than 67 lawmakers voting for the resolution, which would create a veto-proof majority.

The last-minute Wednesday night meeting was first reported by the Washington Post.

9:47 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

These are the Republicans to watch today

Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are both confirmed "no" votes

Senate Republicans will join Democrats today and vote for a resolution to block President Trump's national emergency.

While we know that some Republicans will defy the President, we're still not sure how many will. As is often the case with votes like this, there are a good number of senators who have kept their powder dry on how they will vote.

As one senior GOP aide explained: “There’s no reason to put a target on your back while talks are still ongoing and there’s still some shot of a way out.”

Nothing is official until a senator gives a thumbs up or down on the floor — but here’s a rough outline of who to watch today, based on conversations with GOP senators and aides: 

Confirmed "No" votes: 

  • Sen. Susan Collins
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski
  • Sen. Mike Lee 
  • Sen. Rand Paul 
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (Note: Tillis has been somewhat circumspect about his vote in the last few days as he’s worked on a compromise with the administration.) 

Likely "No" votes:

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander
  • Sen. Mitt Romney 

Possible "No" votes:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz
  • Sen. Pat Toomey
  • Sen. Jerry Moran

Keep an eye on: 

  • Sen. Roy Blunt
  • Sen. Rob Portman
  • Sen. Roger Wicker   
9:17 a.m. ET, March 14, 2019

White House bracing for as many as 14 Republicans to break with Trump, aides say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak 

The White House is bracing for an embarrassing rebuke when the Senate votes on a resolution to overturn President Trump’s national emergency declaration Thursday. Despite the pressure campaign they waged for the last week, Trump’s top aides now say as many as 14 Republican lawmakers are poised to break with the President.

Trump has told his staff he’s resigned to issuing his first veto after it became clear over the past day that enough Republicans will support the measure. Now, his focus is stemming the margin by which the bill will pass. Trump hopes the number of “yes” votes will stay below 60, a symbolic margin that he believes would save some embarrassment though still require him to use his veto pen.

In internal conversations, Trump has characterized the vote as a loyalty test, even though some of those who say they will vote for it — including Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul — have proven to be allies on other issues in the past. Even as members of his staff were focused Wednesday on managing the Boeing plane crisis, Trump himself remained preoccupied with the looming vote, according to people who spoke with him.

Trump had accepted the likely defeat, but remained intent on knowing who would vote with him and who would break ranks.