House Votes to Pull Trump Emergency Declaration

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a resolution that would terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, moving Congress a step closer to a historic rebuke of the president.

Floodlights from the U.S, illuminate multiple border walls on Jan. 7, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The 245-182 vote was not a surprise, given Democrats’ control of the House. Most of the drama over the declaration is still yet to come, as the resolution will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its future is far from certain.

Thirteen Republicans in the House voted with Democrats in favor of the resolution.

“This is the most consequential vote we will take in a generation on the balance of powers between the legislative and the executive branches of government,” Representative Joaquin Castro, the Texas Democrat who introduced the resolution, said on the House floor before the vote. “Whether we will respect the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution, stand up for Congress and for this country and for the Constitution, or whether we will stand down in favor of the president.”

Several Senate Republicans have said they will support the resolution to terminate the national emergency Trump declared earlier this month. The president made the declaration in an effort to move money from military construction accounts to build his border wall after Congress refused to fully fund the project in a drawn-out appropriations fight.

Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina is the most recent Republican to come out in favor of the Democrat-backed measure, though other Republicans have been critical of Trump’s declaration without explicitly committing to supporting the resolution.

Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have also said they plan to vote with Democrats to terminate Trump’s declaration once the measure comes over from the House.

The White House issued a formal veto threat on Tuesday, saying the resolution is on solid legal footing and similar to emergencies both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama declared when they were in office.

Vice President Mike Pence met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday afternoon to boost the party’s support for Trump’s declaration. A representative from the Justice Department also attended the lunch meeting and walked lawmakers through the administration’s legal justification for Trump’s announcement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the discussion “robust and vigorous,” but would not offer a prediction on the fate of the resolution in his chamber.  

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was more confident, saying he hopes the conversation with the administration on Tuesday will help assuage the concerns some of his colleagues have expressed about the emergency declaration. 

“This is a specific statute with a narrow application and I’m hoping that after the legal briefing and the vice president’s speech today that we will prevail,” Graham told reporters Tuesday.

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