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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Some US Republicans side with Democrats to block Trump declaring a border emergency

Trump tweeted “VETO” this evening in response to the vote.

The Capitol building in Washington.
The Capitol building in Washington.
Image: J. Scott Applewhite

THE US SENATE has delivered a strong rebuke of President Donald Trump as several Republicans joined opposition Democrats in voting to terminate his declared emergency on the southern border.

A dozen Republicans supported ending Trump’s declared emergency.

The president had hoped that it would provide him cover to secure alternative government funding for his protective wall on the US-Mexico border which had been denied to him by Congress.

But opponents warned that Trump’s move smacked of executive overreach, and insisted a vote to curtail his authority would preserve the constitutionally mandated separation of powers in Washington.

Trump tweeted “VETO” this evening in response to the vote. 

Trump said the move declaring the emergency allowed him to skirt Congress and repurpose billions of dollars in other government funds, including money that was earmarked to build or renovate military facilities.

But Democrats and some Republicans strongly resisted the move.

They argued that Congress is constitutionally appointed to control the government’s purse strings – and declaring an emergency to seize more money is a blatant abuse of executive authority.

Republicans control the Senate, 53 to 47, 12 today supported the resolution of disapproval, giving Democrats the numbers they needed to get it through.

Senator Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate who supported the measure, said it was “a vote for the constitution and for the balance of power that is at its core”.

A group of Republicans sought to limit defections by cutting a deal yesterday with Trump to limit his powers on emergency declarations, but the president refused.

Earlier today, he acknowledged that “I’ll probably have to veto” the legislation, the first such executive blockage of legislation in his presidency.

But he is likely to get his way nonetheless, at least for now, before the issue gets taken up by the courts, as Democrats will not have enough votes to override the veto.

“It won’t be overturned and the legal scholars say it’s totally constitutional,” Trump said.

“It is, pure and simple, a vote for border security,” he said earlier.

© AFP 2019 With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

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