Senate Votes to End Emergency Border Wall Funding

President Donald Trump tours a section of the southern border wall on Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Senate voted 54-41 Wednesday to end President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and stop the diversion of military funds to pay for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, setting up another veto showdown.

Senate Democrats forced the issue to a vote earlier this week, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York saying it would make Republicans go on the record regarding Trump’s “stealing” of money from the U.S. military to pay for a border wall.

The Senate first voted in favor of ending the emergency declaration in March, by a margin of 59-41. At least a dozen Republican Senators went against the president and supported blocking his use of emergency powers.

However, Trump vetoed that vote and the House was unable to override him. He is expected to issue another veto of Wednesday’s vote.

Wednesday’s vote follows a report released by the Pentagon earlier this month that detailed a significant number of projects scheduled for the chopping block in light of the administration’s decision to divert $3.6 billion in defense spending for the border wall.

Some of the projects were reportedly selected because they were flagged for upgrades and replacement or grant funding had not been scheduled for the current year. The Pentagon reported that the cuts would impact a total of 43 projects spread over 23 states, 21 projects spanning three U.S. territories, and 63 projects abroad.

Among the most costly projects the administration proposed cutting in favor of wall funding were two elementary schools. One school was set to be based at Camp McTureous in Japan and was expected to cost $95 million. Another school at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany was expected to cost $79 million. Storage facilities in Germany and the United Kingdom – costing a cumulative $206 million – were also nixed.

Money for military bases ravaged by intense hurricanes and flooding in recent years is also slated to be cut in favor of border wall funding. They include Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida – which was badly damaged by Hurricane Michael and earmarked to receive a $17 million infusion for a new fire and rescue unit – and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Hurricane Florence badly damaged the base in 2017 and the Pentagon flagged at least $40 million to fund various projects there before the emergency declaration was made.

Roughly $400 million flagged for Puerto Rico – which was utterly devastated by Hurricane Maria just a year ago – is also on the chopping block.

During brief remarks delivered by lawmakers ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine explained why she voted in favor of terminating the emergency declaration.

“I cannot abide in a president doing this, no matter how important or worthy the goal may be,” she said before addressing her fellow Republican directly. “My colleagues, irrespective of whether you support or oppose a border wall, I would urge you today to support this resolution and stand up for the separation of powers laid out in our Constitution. In doing so, you are standing up for our Constitution.”

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