WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump appears headed for an embarrassing reprimand from members of his own party on Thursday, when the Senate is to vote on a resolution disapproving of his declaration of emergency over the border.
Senate Republicans had tried to head off the vote of disapproval by drafting legislation this week to curtail the president’s emergency powers in the future, potentially giving political cover to some senators to stand with Trump in his efforts to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without specific approval from Congress.
But Trump rejected those efforts Wednesday afternoon, telling GOP senators he could not support a bill proposed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would have amended the National Emergencies Act to automatically end presidential emergency declarations after 30 days unless Congress votes to extend the emergency.
“We tried to cut a deal, the president didn’t appear interested,” Lee told a reporter on Wednesday. He announced later that he would be voting for the resolution to terminate the declaration.
Barring a last-minute deal on some other face-saving measure, up to a dozen Republicans could join all Senate Democrats in voting to send the disapproval resolution to Trump’s desk, setting up the first veto of his presidency.
“I don’t think the president is going to win this one,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who opposes the disapproval resolution, told reporters on Wednesday after exiting a caucus lunch about the matter.
Four other Republican senators have publicly expressed reservations about the emergency declaration, worried that a Democratic president could someday point to Trump’s action to justify declarations of their own on matters the GOP opposes. Their concerns are shared by others privately in the party.
But Trump on Wednesday continued to insist that Republicans are “overthinking” the matter and that Thursday’s vote is a question of border security and nothing else. The issue, he tweeted, “should not be thought of any other way.”
Thursday’s vote could mark the second time this week that members of Trump’s party have rebuked him on Capitol Hill. The Senate is also poised to vote on Wednesday on ending U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen ― legislation that the White House has threatened to veto.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a Trump ally who has signaled that he opposes the president on both the declaration and the war in Yemen, said it’s “good for the country” that lawmakers are taking steps to reassert Congress’ constitutional powers of the purse and the power to declare war.
“I think they’re both important constitutional issues,” Paul said Thursday. “Those are two bedrock constitutional principles, and I think it’s kind of extraordinary that we get to discuss them in one week.”