The Senate, controlled by Republicans, voted in favour of a resolution ending Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. Neither chamber voted for the resolution with a two thirds majority, however, meaning the president can still use his veto powers to declare the emergency.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on March 15, 2019

After the vote overturned the emergency declaration, Trump tweeted the word “VETO!” to signal his intentions.

12 Republicans in the Senate voted with the Democrat colleagues to pass the resolution quashing Trump’s declaration. The Democrat-controlled House had approved the resolution by a margin of 245-182 in February.

Trump seeking US$6 billion to construct a border wall

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

Texan Democrat Joaquín Castro, who had introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, said the result was a “strong condemnation” of the president’s emergency declaration and that it may boost the numerous legal challenges to the declaration.

The national emergency declaration would open up new avenues for Trump to access federal funds to build his wall at the US-Mexico border.

Trump is seeking almost US$6 billion to construct the wall and is proposing to redirect that money from the Treasury and Defense departments. Congress had previously agreed to provide only US$1.375 billion to fund the wall project.

The issue of the wall has dominated US politics in recent months. The government previously went into shutdown after the two major parties could not reach a consensus on funding the multibillion dollar project.

Romney among the Republicans to break ranks with Trump on the emergency declaration

Some Republicans have been concerned that the declaration would be unconstitutional. Mitt Romney released a statement earlier in the day saying the vote was “for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core.”

His statement went on to say: “I am seriously concerned that overreach by the executive branch is an invitation to further expansion and abuse by future presidents.”

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said the president’s proposal to rely on the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend money denied to him by Congress would be unprecedented. “This declaration is a dangerous precedent,” he added.

Another Republican Senator, Rob Portman of Ohio, said the president using emergency powers could come back to bite the party. He gave the example of a future President declaring climate change is a national emergency and drawing on emergency authorities to implement the Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal.

In an attempt to avoid an embarrassing loss of face, Vice-President Mike Pence had offered a compromise to Republicans who intended to support the resolution rejecting the emergency. He said Trump would sign a bill preventing such use of emergency powers in future, but the deal fell through.