The U.S. Senate did right by the American people on Thursday.
The Senate passed a resolution to overturn the president’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats to deliver a bipartisan rebuke to the president.
The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-41 Senate vote will send the measure to Trump’s desk. Trump has promised to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down, and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.
Trump furiously lobbied against defections this week, seeking to frame the vote publicly as not only a declaration of support for his border security mantra, but a sign of personal loyalty in a time of divided government. On Twitter, he referred to it as a vote “on Border Security & the Wall” and urged Republican senators, “don’t vote with Pelosi!”
But as he railed against the measure, two more Republican senators, Mitt Romney, of Utah, and Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, announced that they would support the resolution of disapproval, joining five other Republican senators: Susan Collins, of Maine, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Mike Lee, of Utah.
“He is not responding to a national emergency,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said Thursday in a statement. “There is no crisis on our southern border requiring such extreme action. What kind of a national emergency is declared only after you lose a three-year funding fight? What kind of national emergency is resolved by a multi-year construction project? The truth is clear; he is abusing this authority as a means to a political end.”
Meanwhile, closer to home, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced this week that Vermont has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging Trump’s declaration. The lawsuit was originally filed Feb. 18 by a total of 16 state attorneys general. Four more states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, joined the lawsuit this week.
“The president has manufactured a political crisis over the wall,” Donovan said in Seven Days this week, “and wants to divert funds already dedicated (by Congress) to serious public policy ends.”
According to Donovan, Trump may reallocate money from military construction, asset forfeiture programs and counter-drug efforts, the weekly reported. He said roughly $1 million that Vermont would expect to receive is now at risk.
The resilience in Congress and here at home is most welcome.
The Senate vote stood as a rare instance of Republicans breaking with Trump in significant numbers on an issue central to his presidency — the construction of a wall along the southern border.
For weeks, Trump had sought to frame the debate in terms of immigration, arguing that Republican senators who supported border security should back him up on the emergency declaration. But for many GOP lawmakers, it was about a bigger issue: The Constitution itself, which grants Congress — not the president — control over government spending.
In fact, all of these actions call out Trump for violating the separation of powers and setting a potentially dangerous precedent.
“It’s imperative for the president to honor Congress’ constitutional role,” Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, noted Thursday on the Senate floor as he announced his vote in favor of the disapproval resolution.
Republicans who voted with Trump and against the disapproval resolution said the president was acting within his authority under the National Emergencies Act, and taking necessary steps to address a humanitarian and drug crisis at the border that Democrats had ignored.
Leahy noted in his remarks, “For three years, he requested that Congress fund his cynical campaign promise to build a ‘big beautiful’ wall on the southern border, and for three years Congress refused. Even when his own party controlled both chambers of Congress, he could not convince enough members that it was a good idea.”
That manifested itself in a sound blow to the presidency.
This week’s actions send a strong message: Americans can no longer stand for the erosion of institutional checks and balances in the face of creeping authoritarianism.
Enough is enough.