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Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul will oppose President Trump on border emergency vote
Rand’s defection means resolution to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration can pass Senate
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky will break with Donald Trump and vote to overturn the president’s declaration of a national emergency to find money to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Paul is the fourth Republican senator to come out in favor of a resolution overturning the declaration, enough defections to get the measure through the Senate and force Trump to veto it.
Speaking at a Republican dinner Saturday in his hometown of Bowling Green, Paul cited constitutional objections to Trump’s plan to shift money to wall construction that has been earmarked by Congress for other purposes.
“We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it,” Paul said, according to a report in the Bowling Green Daily News. “If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Paul is the second Southern Republican senator to announce support for the resolution, joining North Carolina’s Thom Tillis in bolting from the party line.
Trump, frustrated by the unwillingness of the Democrat-controlled House to vote money for the border wall, declared a national emergency on February 15, which would allow him to shift $8 billion from other federal programs and use it for wall construction. Most of the money will come from appropriations for military construction and drug interdiction.
Under the law that governs national emergencies, Congress can overturn an emergency declaration with a majority vote in both houses. The House approved the measure by a vote of 245-182.
Only three of 101 Southern Republicans in the House opposed Trump’s declaration — Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Will Hurd of Texas, and Francis Rooney of Florida.
Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate. With Paul, Tillis, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska publicly opposed, the resolution overturning the declaration will pass the Senate if Democrats unite against it.
Trump has vowed to veto the resolution and has more than enough support in both houses to prevent his veto from being overridden. The battle will then move to federal court, where opponents are challenging the legality of the emergency declaration.
Paul, who doesn’t come up for re-election until 2022, had been seen as a likely yes vote on overturning the declaration. A libertarian known for opposing his party leadership on constitutional issues, Paul reportedly argued with Vice President Mike Pence about the declaration at a recent GOP party lunch.
The Southern Republicans in the Senate still deciding about whether to oppose the emergency declaration include Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
Paul, Cruz and Rubio were all presidential candidates against Trump in 2016. Alexander has announced he will retire in 2020.
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North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis breaks with President Trump on border wall emergency
House approves measure to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration with just 3 Southern GOP votes
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina has become the first Southern Republican in the Senate to break ranks to support overturning President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to find money to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Democrat-controlled House passed a bill Tuesday to overturn the emergency declaration, which now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Just three Southern Republicans in the House — Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Will Hurd of Texas, and Francis Rooney of Florida — voted for the measure, which passed by a margin of 245-182.
In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Tillis said he is concerned that the emergency declaration will set a precedent that “future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms.”
“Those on the left and the right who are making Trump’s emergency declaration a simple political litmus test of whether one supports or opposes the president and his policies are missing the mark,” Tillis said. “This is about the separation of powers and whether Congress will support or oppose a new precedent of executive power that will have major consequences.”
Tillis said conservatives “should be thinking about whether they would accept the prospect of a President Bernie Sanders declaring a national emergency to implement parts of the radical Green New Deal; a President Elizabeth Warren declaring a national emergency to shut down banks and take over the nation’s financial institutions; or a President Cory Booker declaring a national emergency to restrict Second Amendment rights.”
He also noted that Republicans “rightfully cried foul” when President Barack Obama used executive action to bypass Congress.
“There is no intellectual honesty in now turning around and arguing that there’s an imaginary asterisk attached to executive overreach — that it’s acceptable for my party but not thy party,” he said.
Trump, frustrated by the unwillingness of the Democrat-controlled House to vote money for the border wall, declared a national emergency on February 15, which will allow him to shift $8 billion from other federal programs and use it for wall construction. Most of the money will come from appropriations for military construction and drug interdiction.
Under the law that governs national emergencies, Congress can overturn an emergency declaration with a majority vote in both houses. However, Trump is certain to veto the measure if it gets through the Senate, and the president has enough support to prevent his veto from being overridden.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Three Republicans — Tillis, Susan Collins from Maine, and Lisa Murkowski — have now said they will vote in favor of overturning the declaration; any additional GOP defections will mean it is likely to pass when it comes to the floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has 18 days to bring the House resolution to a vote.
In the House, almost all of the Southern Republicans stuck with the president.
The dissenters were Rooney, who represents Southwest Florida; Hurd, who represents a West Texas district along the U.S.-Mexico border where much of the proposed wall would be constructed; and Massie, who said he supports construction of the wall but voted for the resolution “in order to be consistent in preserving the constitutional structure of our Republic.”
“There is a crisis at our border, but it’s not an emergency when Congress doesn’t spend money how the President wants,” Massie said on Twitter. “The President’s constitutional remedy is to veto spending bills that aren’t suitable to him, yet he has chosen to sign many bills that did not fund the wall.”
If Congress is unable to override Trump’s veto, the battle over the border wall will likely head to federal court, where opponents plan to challenge the legality of the emergency declaration.