The First Branch: Congress's Stunning Rebuke of Trump's Wall

Minutes ago, the US Senate passed a resolution revoking Trump’s fake emergency declaration on the border wall. The final vote was 59-41, meaning 12 Republican Senators joined the Senate’s 45 Democrats and two independents in the vote. Speaker Pelosi set the Senate vote into motion by passing the resolution out of the House on February 26, which started an 18-day clock that Senate Republicans were powerless to stop.

Here are the Republicans who voted against Trump on the Senate resolution:

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

  • Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

  • Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah

  • Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

  • Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

  • Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

  • Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

  • Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Donald Trump will veto the resolution, which will then set up a vote in the House to overturn the veto. It’s unlikely that the veto will not be sustained, but it will afford House Democrats a second shot at making Republicans take yet another vote on the border wall and the constitutionality of Trump’s declaration.

Today’s vote in the Senate is welcome news, and it shows possibly the only threshold where a significant portion of the Republican party is willing to oppose Trump: when they are afraid what a Democratic president will do with the same powers Trump is claiming for himself. Speaker Pelosi herself, as well as several Democrats running for president have warned that should Trump’s fake emergency be upheld by the Supreme Court, the next Democratic president will use the broadened emergency powers to act on actual emergencies, like climate change and gun safety.

There is a very good chance that federal courts, including the Supreme Court, will in fact reverse Trump’s order in the likely event that Congress sustains Trump’s veto on the issue. When the courts look to the political branches about whether the declaration is legal, it will help to have a clear Congressional record of:

  1. The president not declaring an emergency for years

  2. The president having asked for funds through the normal process

  3. Congress clearly rejecting the request for those funds

  4. The president using an emergency declaration to end-run Congress

  5. Congress clearly rebuking that move

Before I close, let me say this: the vote in the Senate today was good news for the constitutional checks and balances, but no one should mistake it Republican reasonable-ness. What it should be viewed as is that Trump’s actions are so offensive and outrageous that even some of the otherwise lay-down-and-take-it members of his party can’t take it anymore.

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