Opponents of Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border appear to have enough Senate votes to reject his move, now the Kentucky Republican Rand Paul has said he can’t go along with the White House.
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Read moreThe House has already voted to derail the action, and if the Senate follows later this month the measure will go to Trump. He has promised to veto it. Congress is unlikely to have the votes to override that.
Under the declaration, Trump would divert $3.6bn from military construction to erect more border barriers, having been denied his requested funding by Congress, after a 35-day government shutdown over the issue. The president is invoking other powers to transfer an additional $3.1bn to construction.
Three other Republican senators have announced they will vote “no” – two moderates, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
The president doesn’t get to decide that he can override Congress simply because Congress doesn’t do what he wants
Justin AmashAssuming all 47 Democrats and their independent allies go against Trump, that would give opponents of the emergency declaration 51 votes – and the majority needed.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said at a party dinner on Saturday night at Western Kentucky University, according to the Bowling Green 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 Trump’s emergency declaration say it tramples Congress’s constitutional power to control spending and will set a precedent for Democratic presidents to make such a declaration for their own purposes, perhaps on gun control or healthcare policy.
Justin Amash, a Republican member of the House from Michigan who stood against Trump in the House vote, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday: “I think there’s a fair debate that there are big problems on the border. Some people would call it a crisis. But that has to go through Congress.
“So, we have a legislative branch, Congress, that handles these issues. And the president doesn’t get to decide that he can override Congress simply because Congress doesn’t do what he wants.”
Sign up for the US morning briefingAmash also said he thought Republicans supporting Trump on the issue were abdicating their responsibilities under the constitution.
“I think the president is violating our constitutional system,” he said, adding that congressional action against Trump was important because “we have to protect our own power. And that’s what I’m doing. And I’m hopeful many Republican senators will agree.”
Members of Congress are also concerned Trump would siphon money from home-state projects to barrier construction.