Senators rebuke Trump’s national emergency order on 59-41 vote

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate on Thursday voted to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, delivering an historic, if likely short-lived, rebuke to the president.

Twelve Republicans broke with their party to support the resolution ending Trump’s emergency declaration, sending the measure to the president’s desk with a 59-41 vote Thursday afternoon.

Trump has promised to veto the resolution. Given the margins in both the House and the Senate, Congress is unlikely to override the veto, meaning the emergency will likely remain in effect.

After the Senate vote Thursday, Trump simply tweeted, in all capital letters, “VETO!”

“I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country,” Trump tweeted later. “I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!”

Trump declared the emergency last month after House and Senate negotiators did not fully fund his request for money to build a wall along the southern border. Trump is using the declaration to tap money from military construction accounts that will go towards building the wall.

The House voted at the end of February to terminate the emergency declaration. A group of Senate Republicans had reportedly been in talks with the White House on a deal in which Republicans would strike down the House resolution in exchange for Trump supporting legislation that would limit the president’s ability to declare national emergencies in the future, but Trump did not buy into the plan.

Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C., was among the first Republicans to publicly state he would vote in favor of ending Trump’s declaration, but reversed course on Thursday just before the vote. Tillis said he changed his mind after talking with officials in the Trump administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, about gaining support for putting limits on the National Emergencies Act, the law under which Trump declared the emergency.

“The White House has been very gracious, and I should say very patient given my initial position, in working with us and as late as today having the president make a statement that he is willing to work with us,” Tillis said on the Senate floor just before the vote.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who voted for the resolution, said that between the Senate’s vote yesterday to end U.S. support of the war in Yemen and today’s vote to terminate Trump’s declaration, Congress appears more willing to retake some of the powers it has given over to the executive branch over the years.

“We don’t often have great votes about great questions around here about separation of powers, so yeah, it’s been an incredibly important week,” Paul told reporters after the vote.

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who also voted to end the emergency declaration, similarly said he hopes Thursday’s vote is a sign of things to come.

“We’ve gotten a little lazy about our responsibilities and forgotten that the founders had a very good reason to give powers to the Senate and the reason was to keep from having an executive with too much power,” Alexander told reporters.

Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican who also voted for the resolution, has introduced legislation that would end any national emergency declaration after 30 days unless Congress votes to extend it. Speaking on the Senate floor, Lee said it is beyond time for Congress to reclaim the powers given to it in the Constitution.

“It’s not President Trump’s fault, it’s Congress’,” Lee said on the Senate floor. “We need to change it.”