Republican defections on national emergency set up Trump's first veto

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., signaled on Saturday that he will vote to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a move that likely gives the Senate enough votes to pass a resolution that would nullify the declaration.

Trump has vowed to veto the bipartisan resolution, which would be the first veto of his presidency.

“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul told Republican supporters at a dinner at Western Kentucky University, according to audio published by the Bowling Green Daily News. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”

On Tuesday, the House voted 245-182 to approve the resolution — with 13 Republicans joining Democrats to block Trump’s emergency declaration. The Senate is expect to vote on it later this month.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., listens as President Trump speaks before signing an executive order on health insurance at the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, File)

In voicing support for the resolution, Paul joins three other Senate Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of N.C. — who have already said they will vote with Democrats.

With Republicans holding 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and a simple majority needed to pass the resolution, the four GOP defections would be enough to send the measure to the president’s desk.

“Will I veto it? One hundred percent,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Feb. 2. “One hundred percent. And I don’t think it survives a veto. We have too many smart people that want border security. So I can’t imagine it would survive a veto, but I will veto it, yes.”

If the resolution passes the Senate, and Trump does, in fact, make good on his veto vow, Congress will likely fall far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override him.

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