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House to vote to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration on border wall

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The House is expected to vote Tuesday to overturn President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall on the US southern border.

While many Republicans are expected to vote against the resolution, the Democratic-controlled House is expected to easily pass the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pitched it on Monday as a nonpartisan effort to protect Congress’ power of the purse.

“This isn’t about the border,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “This is about the Constitution.”

The resolution by Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, would then be taken up by the Senate in the next couple of weeks, while multiple lawsuits contest Trump’s authority in court to build barriers for an emergency that plaintiffs argue doesn’t exist.

It is not yet clear how many Republicans would vote for the resolution in the Senate, but it is very possible that it could pass the upper chamber where Republicans hold a majority. That would amount to a major rebuke of the President, who has said he would veto the resolution if it comes to his desk.

During the recent 35-day government shutdown, the longest such federal shutdown in US history, Trump pushed Congress to appropriate $5.7 billion for physical barriers along the border with Mexico. The divided legislature rejected his proposal and the President eventually accepted its bill for $1.375 billion in border security measures.

But before signing the bill, Trump announced he would go around Congress to get the wall he wanted, presenting Republicans on Capitol Hill with a difficult choice. While some will support their party’s leader on his top campaign issue, others argue it could set up a poor precedent for future Democratic presidents to push liberal policies without congressional input.

If four Republicans join all the Democrats in the Senate to pass the resolution in the coming weeks, the measure would then face a presidential veto. Congress would then need an overwhelming majority — two-thirds of its members — in both chambers to overrule the President. It is unlikely that there would be enough support on Capitol Hill to overturn a veto.

So far, a handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they would support the resolution.

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is up for re-election in 2020, said in a Washington Post op-ed on Monday evening that he would vote in favor.

“As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress. As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms,” the senator wrote.

“These are the reasons I would vote in favor of the resolution disapproving of the president’s national-emergency declaration, if and when it comes before the Senate,” Tillis added.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a key swing vote also up for re-election in 2020, has said that she plans to vote in favor if it is “a clean disapproval resolution.”

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another key swing vote, is also signaling she would back the measure.

“I probably will be supporting the resolution to disapprove,” the senator told home-state TV station KTUU in Anchorage.

She added that her decision is “not because I disagree with the President when it comes to border security, (or) certainly national security, but because I think it’s so important that there be clear lines when it comes to the separation of powers.”

Trump calls on Republicans not to side with Democrats, and many GOP senators have not said how they will vote

The President has been putting public pressure on Republicans over border security and has urged them not to side with Democrats.

“I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security,” the President tweeted on Monday. “Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!”

As of Tuesday morning, many Republican senators say they are still undecided about how they will vote on the resolution.

Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican from the border state of Arizona, and Sen. Pat Toomey, a conservative from Pennsylvania, told CNN they were still looking at their options.

Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and David Perdue of Georgia said they planned to vote with the President against a resolution of disapproval.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, told CNN on Monday he does not support the President’s emergency declaration, but would review the resolution of disapproval before deciding how he’d vote.

“I think it is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the Constitution,” said Alexander of the declaration. “And I feel strongly about that.”

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he was “leaning against” voting for the resolution.

“I am leaning against the resolution of disapproval mainly because I think this is (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer’s and Pelosi’s way of painting the President in the corner,” Cornyn told reporters Monday, adding that Trump “said all along he wanted money to do border security and they basically were determined not to give him what he thought was necessary.”

Cornyn, a member of the leadership team, predicted the resolution will pass the Republican-controlled Senate but die in the House when it attempts a veto override.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed confidence that the GOP would deny votes in the House for a veto-proof majority.

“Yes,” McCarthy, a California Republican, said when CNN asked if they’d have the votes to deny a veto-proof majority. “If you read what the Democrats … say (that) the emergency is over — no, it’s not.”

Democrats press for answers on emergency declaration on Capitol Hill

In addition to the vote planned in the House, Democrats on Capitol Hill are seeking answers to questions over the President’s emergency declaration in other venues on Capitol Hill.

General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of US Northern Command who oversees military support on the border, told lawmakers on Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services committee hearing that he was consulted about the use of military funding for the national emergency declared by the President in response to questioning from Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

Heinrich asked during the hearing, “My question is: were you consulted as to using military construction dollars as the source of funding to pay for the national emergency efforts?”

“Yes,” O’Shaughnessy responded.

O’Shaughnessy also said during the hearing that migrants crossing the US southern border are “not a military threat” but did say it is clear that that US Customs and Border Protection values having a wall or barrier at the border and noted that “border security is national security.”

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