Skip to main content

Senate again votes to overturn Trump's border wall budget maneuver but falls short of veto-proof majority

Both Texans in the U.S. Senate voted against the measure.

Ordered under the George W. Bush administration, a controversial incomplete border wall along the Rio Grande River in Sout...

The Senate voted for the second time Wednesday to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, once again falling well short of a veto-proof majority needed to block the money.

The 54-41 vote was similar to the outcome in March, the first time the Senate voted on the disapproval resolution. Eleven Republicans sided with Democrats on Wednesday to support the measure, which required a simple majority to pass.

The resolution still must clear the House before being sent to Trump. He vetoed a similar measure several months ago.

Senators had important new information as they cast their votes Wednesday — although it didn’t change the result.

When senators last voted on the issue, the Pentagon had not released a list of the $3.6 billion in military construction projects that were being canceled to pay for Trump’s border barrier.

But that list was released earlier this month, and senators can identify the specific projects in their states that are being scrapped to free up funding for Trump’s wall. That dynamic created new pressure for GOP senators, especially those up for reelection in 2020, to weigh their allegiance to Trump and his border wall against their support for much-needed projects at military bases and installations back home.

“If Republicans choose to stand with President Trump, they’ll be saying they fully support allowing the president to take money from our military to fund a border wall,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, said ahead of the vote.

Such arguments failed to sway GOP senators who voted for Trump’s emergency declaration the first time around, and no one changed their vote Wednesday. Both Texans in the Senate voted against the measure.

“How would I square voting differently?” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked reporters Tuesday. Cornyn is up for reelection, and his state is losing some $38.5 million in funds for projects in El Paso and San Antonio.

Cornyn declared such concerns “way too parochial” and expressed confidence that the money for the Texas projects would ultimately be restored, even though Democrats have insisted they will not go along with that plan.

“There won’t be any net loss in my opinion,” Cornyn said.

Under an obscure law, the White House has said that declaring a national emergency at the border allows the president to take money from military construction projects already approved by Congress and spend it on his wall instead. Democrats — and some Republicans — have tried to block him, without luck.

Trump issued the emergency declaration in February after a 35-day partial government shutdown that occurred because Congress refused to give him all the money he wanted for his wall.

The law allows Democrats to force repeated votes aimed at overturning the national emergency through disapproval resolutions that can pass with a simple majority vote. In March, 59 senators, including 12 Republicans, voted to overturn the national emergency, while 41 senators voted to uphold it.

The vote total in favor of the disapproval resolution was lower Wednesday because five senators were absent, including some Democrats who are campaigning for president, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who had voted with Democrats the first time around.

Rubio’s spokesman Dan Holler said the senator was absent because of a longstanding family commitment but would have voted as he did before to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration.

Trump ultimately vetoed the resolution that passed in March, and Congress failed to override his veto. The same outcome is expected this time around.

The list of military construction projects being canceled, which includes 41 projects in 23 states, ranges from upgrading a middle school in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to building a shooting range at a base in Jackson, Mississippi.

Some of the projects are in the home states of the GOP senators who are considered most vulnerable in their reelection fights, and Democratic campaign committees and challengers have already been making plans to use the issue against them.

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today