WASHINGTON (CN) – Calling the resolution reckless and dangerous, President Donald Trump issued his first-ever veto Friday to block a bill that would have terminated his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
“Consistent with the law and the legislative process designed by our founders, today I am vetoing this resolution,” Trump said in the Oval Office, according to a White House pool report. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it.”
Speaking at the White House before issuing the first veto of his presidency, Trump spoke at length about the wall along the southern border and his desire to crack down on illegal immigration. Joining Trump in the White House were a collection of law enforcement officers, members of his administration and parents whose children were killed by people in the country illegally.
Attorney General William Barr said Trump’s declaration is “clearly authorized under the law” and that the National Emergencies Act gives presidents “broad discretionary authority” to declare emergencies.
“What you’ve done from a legal standpoint is solidly grounded in law and from the standpoint of protecting the American people, it’s imperative,” Barr said in the Oval Office on Friday.
The move has been expected ever since House Democrats introduced a resolution to terminate the emergency declaration last month. The measure passed the House in February and the Senate on Thursday with support from Republicans, but without the margins necessary to override Trump’s veto.
Trump said he did not put much pressure on the Republicans who joined Democrats in supporting the resolution because he knew he would be able to veto it without much threat of an override.
“I’ll let them known when there’s pressure, OK?” Trump said. “And I told them that. When I need people I’m going to let you know. I didn’t need the votes. We all knew it’s going to be a veto and there’s not going to be an override.”
Trump declared the emergency last month after congressional appropriators declined to fully fund his request for money for to build a wall along the southern border, a request that led to a month-long shutdown starting in December.
The emergency declaration allows Trump to tap money from military construction accounts to go towards construction of his long-promised wall.
The amount of Republican support the measure received in its first pass through Congress makes it unlikely lawmakers will be able to override Trump’s veto, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the House will take a vote to do so later this month nonetheless. Congress is on recess next week, but Pelosi said the override vote will happen the day after lawmakers return to Washington.
“The House and Senate resoundingly rejected the president’s lawless power grab, yet the president has chosen to continue to defy the Constitution, the Congress and the will of the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement. “On March 26, the House will once again act to protect our Constitution and our democracy from the president’s emergency declaration by holding a vote to override his veto.”