By Adam Shaw
Published March 13, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she would not allow the House to take up legislation that would potentially spare President Trump from an embarrassing rebuff from Congress over his decision to declare a national emergency on the border.
“In an effort to avoid voting in favor of the House's resolution to terminate Trump’s #FakeEmergency, GOP senators are proposing legislation to allow Trump to violate the Constitution *just this once.* The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass,” Pelosi tweeted.
Trump declared a national emergency last month after Congress granted only a fraction of the $5.7 billion he had requested for a wall on the southern border. The move opens up billions in additional dollars to be spent on the border.
But the move caused consternation among not only Democrats, but also some Republicans -- with a number of GOP senators prepared to join with Democrats in voting to stop the national emergency declaration. Politico reported that roughly a dozen Senate Republicans are either committed to voting to disapprove of the president or weighing their options. The Democrat-controlled House has already voted to derail the emergency.
Such a move would almost certainly be vetoed by Trump, and a two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override the veto would be next-to-impossible to achieve. But such a rebuff from Congress would be an embarrassing slap on the wrist for the president.
As a way to avert such a clash, Republican senators are pushing a plan that would handcuff future declarations. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah on Tuesday introduced a bill that would automatically end future emergency declarations after 30 days, and therefore allow Republicans to vote against condemning the emergency declaration.
“Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back. If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so,” Lee said in a statement.
But Pelosi’s statement appeared to be an attempt to limit those options, and she was joined in her move by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
"Do you hear me, my colleagues, my Republican colleagues. This won't pass," Schumer said on Wednesday morning, according to Politico. "This fig leaf is so easily seen through, so easily blown aside that it leaves the constitutional pretensions of my Republican colleagues naked."
The Associated Press reported that Vice President Mike Pence met privately with five Republican senators as part of the efforts to fend off the rebellion. Meanwhile, President Trump urged Republicans against "overthinking" the vote.
"Republican Senators are overthinking tomorrow’s vote on National Emergency. It is very simply Border Security/No Crime - Should not be thought of any other way. We have a MAJOR NATIONAL EMERGENCY at our Border and the People of our Country know it very well!" he tweeted.
Republicans control the Senate 53-47, meaning that only four senators need to defect to approve the resolution and send it to the White House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.