WASHINGTON (NBC) — The Senate voted 59-41 on Thursday to cancel President Donald Trump’s national security declaration to fund a wall on the border, picking up the support of 12 Republicans to put the measure over the top.
Trump has vowed to veto the measure, which would block him from making an end run around Congress to obtain billions of federal dollars to build the wall that has been set aside for other purposes.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had conceded last week that the resolution would clear the 51-vote threshold needed to pass, and the number of GOP defections grew Thursday morning ahead of the vote.
Trump has declared that he will veto the measure that is now headed to his desk. It would be the first veto of his presidency.
“A big National Emergency vote today by The United States Senate on Border Security & the Wall (which is already under major construction),” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!”
“I don’t know what the vote will be, it doesn’t matter,” Trump told reporters later at the White House. “I’ll probably have to veto and it’s not going to be overturned, and we’re going to have our whole thing.”
He added, “The legal scholars all say it’s totally constitutional. It’s very important, it’s really a border security vote. It’s pure and simple — it’s a vote for border security, it’s a vote for no crime.”
In a separate tweet, seemingly aimed at lawmakers on the fence, Trump said that if Congress wanted to “update the law” that grants the president power to declare a national emergency, “I will support those efforts, but today’s issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a frequent Trump critic, said that he would vote in favor of the resolution because of the broader implication of Trump’s declaration, which the president wants to use to pay for a border wall Congress has refused to fund.
“I will vote today for the resolution of disapproval,” Romney said. “This is a vote for the constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core. For the executive branch to override a law passed by Congress would make it the ultimate power rather than a balancing power.”
He added, “This is not a vote against border security. In fact, I agree that a physical barrier is urgently needed to help ease the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, and the administration already has $4.5 billion available within existing authority to fund a barrier — even without an emergency declaration.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced on the Senate floor that he would join Democrats and support the measure, calling the declaration that Trump issued a “dangerous precedent.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed Trump for declaring an emergency “because he lost with Congress.”
“He had to trample on the Constitution to continue his fight,” Schumer said.
Should Trump follow through on his veto threat, it is unlikely that Congress would be able to overturn it.
Trump declared the national emergency weeks after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, lasting more than a month, which followed Congress’ refusal to acquiesce to his demand for more than $5 billion in funding to build a massive wall along the southern border with Mexico. Trump used the emergency declaration in hopes of redirecting billions of federal dollars to build the wall without congressional approval.
Trump on Thursday labeled the Democratic lawmakers opposed to his emergency declaration “‘Border Deniers.'”
“They refuse to see or acknowledge the Death, Crime, Drugs and Human Trafficking at our Southern Border!” he tweeted.