Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says he will vote against President Donald Trump's "national emergency" declaration, rerouting funds from other federal law enforcement priorities to building a waill along the United States-Mexico border. The announcement likely means Trump's border wall plan is dead on arrival in the Senate.
The Bowling Green Daily News first reported that Rand would vote "no" on the national emergency declaration — and "yes" on a resolution to block border wall measure — on Saturday. The senator followed up on the report with a statement indicating that he would oppose the measure over concerns that the declaration usurped Congressional power to appropriate funds.
"I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress." Paul said. "We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing."
“I stand with the president often, and I do so with a loud voice,” the senator continued in an op-ed published late Sunday night on Fox News' website. “Today, I think he’s wrong, not on policy, but in seeking to expand the powers of the presidency beyond their constitutional limits.”
“I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding [for a border wall]...so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate," he concluded.
Trump's plan reportedly involves using the "emergency powers to secure $3.6 billion from the Department of Defense's military construction funds to build his proposed border wall," according to CNBC, and then rerouting another $3 billion or so through a series of executive orders. That is in addition to the $1.4 billion authorized in last month's 2019 budget bill and in place of the $5.6 billion the White House requested in its initial budget overtures.
The House, which is, of course, controlled by Democrats, voted in favor of the resolution to block the border wall declaration late last week, according to NPR. That vote ended up being 245-182 in favor of the resolution with thirteen Republicans jumping the aisle to oppose the president, largely over separation-of-powers concerns.
The Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, could have provided the president with a narrow victory, but after members of the GOP's House coalition voted to affirmatively block the emergency declaration, prominent Republican senators, including Lamar Alexander (R-TN), said they were privately warning the president that the Senate could vote against his emergency declaration measure as well.
With Sen. Rand Paul now defecting to the "no" camp, it's likely that the same measure, designed to block the emergency declaration, will pass in the Senate. He joins three other Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in expressing concern over the Trump's plan, providing "the slim majority Democrats need to send the measure to the president’s desk, offering a stinging repudiation of the declaration," according to The New York Times.
The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution to block Trump's national emergency declaration later this week. The president has already said that if the legislation appears on his desk, he will veto it. The House likely has enough votes to override the president's veto but the Senate, where the margin of victory for Democrats is much narrower, does not.