Trump issues first veto, continuing border ‘emergency’
President Trump issued the first veto of his presidency, striking down a resolution that would have terminated his national emergency declaration diverting funding to build the wall.
The Senate voted Thursday by a margin of 59 to 41 to block Trump’s declaration that an emergency on the border with Mexico requires the construction of a wall, a project for which Congress has not appropriated money. A dozen Republicans defected and joined every Democrat in voting yes. The House previously passed the resolution last month, 245 (including 13 Republicans) to 182. Unless more Republicans defect from the president’s position, neither margin would be sufficient to override a veto.
“I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country,” tweeted Trump on Thursday after the vote. “I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!”
Trump’s reelection campaign began fundraising off the veto early Friday afternoon, sending out an email asking supporters to donate to a “Official Wall Defense Fund.”
Trump had sought to frame the issue as voting for him or for “Nancy Pelosi, Crime and the Open Border Democrats.” The dozen senators who went against the White House were Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both of Utah.
Lee proposed a version of the resolution that would have restricted future emergency declarations while grandfathering in Trump's, but he couldn’t reach a compromise agreement with the White House, and the plan fizzled.
“We tried to cut a deal," Lee said. “The president didn’t appear interested.”
The wall was a signature campaign issue for Trump, but he was never able to deliver on his promise to make Mexico pay for it, and the issue languished during his first two years in office. The emergency declaration came after Trump failed to win an appropriation for a border wall in a continuing resolution to fund the government last fall. The resulting deadlock shut the government for five weeks, during which time workers were furloughed or forced to work without pay.
In declaring an emergency on Feb. 15, Trump cited drug smuggling across the border from Mexico (misleading), the drop in crime in El Paso, Texas, after a partial border barricade was built there (not true) and reports of women kidnapped, bound with tape and trafficked into the United States across unguarded sections of the border (no evidence exists of this). Hours later he flew to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a weekend of golf.