President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency today, striking down a bill that revoked his February 15th National Emergency Declaration regarding the border with Mexico.
The issue arose last month after Trump was unsatisfied with Congress for granting much less than the $5.7 billion in funding he requested for border wall security. He declared a national emergency and directed an additional $3.6 billion in funding for this purpose.
The bill revoking the emergency had passed the House and Senate with strong support from Congressional Democrats and several Republicans who joined them in voting in favor. The final vote was 245-182 in the House, with 13 Republicans voting yes, and 59-41 in the Senate, with 12 Republicans voting yes.
The veto was no surprise; the White House had issued a statement denouncing the bill immediately after it passed the House.
The Republicans who voted in favor of the bill generally agreed with Trump that the border security situation was serious, and that as President he has the power to declare national emergencies, but focused their opposition on the aspect of exerting control over the appropriation of funds, especially the portion of the funding that would be transferring funds from construction and improvements at military bases. Appropriations is a power explicitly granted to Congress under the Constitution and several Republicans expressed concerns about a future Democratic president taking advantage of a similar tactic to force through liberal programs that could not pass muster in Congress.
The opposition to the bill is unlikely to be able to defeat Trump’s veto. Both the House and Senate were short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, and the vote totals are unlikely to significantly change if the bill is brought up again.
In an Oval Office gathering where he announced the veto, Trump mentioned the presence of law enforcement officials and families of victims who had been killed by illegal immigrants and cited “criminal cartels, human traffickers, and drug smugglers, and crime of all kinds,” as the reasons behind his emergency declaration.
“As President, the protection of the nation is my highest duty,” said Trump, calling the bill “dangerous” and “reckless.”
Watch Trump’s full remarks below, via ABC News:
BREAKING: Pres. Trump vetoes resolution of disapproval terminating his emergency declaration. https://t.co/HZYDv2haoj
— ABC News (@ABC) March 15, 2019
Attorney General Bill Barr was also present at Trump’s announcement, telling reporters that the president’s declaration was “clearly consistent with the law.”
At the veto signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Attorney General Bill Barr is defending the president's decision to declare a national emergency. Barr said it's "clearly consistent with the law," according to the pool.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 15, 2019
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