The Senate has voted to undo President Trump’s emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border, the most high-profile and bipartisan rebuke of Trump’s presidency.
Every Senate Democrat and a dozen Republicans joined together Thursday to pass a resolution disapproving of Trump’s attempts to seize money Congress appropriated for other purposes to build his wall. The final vote was 59-41.
A number of senior Republicans who hadn’t voted against Trump on any previous major legislation broke with the president on the high-profile vote — including Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of Senate GOP leadership.
The resolution is purely a show vote: Trump has already promised to veto it, and his attempts to seize money Congress approved for military construction for his pet project is already tied up in court. But the vote marks the most robust rejection of Trump by members of his own party since his inauguration.
The Republicans who bucked Trump are a mix of libertarian-leaning and establishment members concerned about the constitutionality of his actions, Senate Appropriations Committee members furious at him for stepping on their toes, military hawks unhappy that Trump sought to siphon off money for other badly needed projects.
The dozen Republicans who broke with Trump: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Blunt, Collins, Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
The vote comes after weeks of failed last-ditch efforts by Republicans to head off a direct confrontation with the president. By law, the Senate had to vote on the resolution of disapproval after the House passed it and couldn’t filibuster the legislation or amend it dramatically, leaving them with little wiggle room.
In the final weeks, members including Lee and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) had worked hard to try to find a way out of the corner Trump had pained them into. Lee proposed concurrent legislation that would have limited the scope of the president’s ability to declare a national emergency, and Vice President Mike Pence indicated to GOP lawmakers that might be a workable solution. But Trump changed his mind on Wednesday, killing last-minute GOP hopes that they could avoid directly confronting the president.
Many Republicans had implored Trump not to make the emergency declaration in the first place.
Even as he refused a compromise and it became crystal clear that he was going to lose, Trump continued to whip up attention to the resolution of disapproval. That included a frontal attack on the Republicans who planned to cross him that came just hours before the vote:
A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2019
Notably, nearly every single Senate Republican facing a tough reelection battle in 2020 chose to back Trump. That includes Tillis, who flip-flopped at the last minute to stand with Trump; as well as Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), both of whom are expected to face tough reelection fights.
Sens. David Perdue (R-GA), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), who might face tough elections of their own, also stood with Trump. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the only vulnerable 2020 Republican to break with Trump on the vote.