Two more Senate Republicans — Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — will support a House resolution to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
Romney and Alexander are the latest GOP senators to break with the president on his plans to unilaterally steer funds to his border wall, joining Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina had written an op-ed denouncing Trump’s national emergency declaration, though it was unclear this week how he would vote.
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In a statement, Romney described Thursday’s vote on the House resolution of disapproval as “a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core” and emphasized his stance was “not a vote against border security.”
“I am seriously concerned that overreach by the Executive Branch is an invitation to further expansion and abuse by future presidents,” Romney, an occasional critic of the president, said.
Alexander reiterated his support for Trump’s border wall while emphasizing Congress’ role as a check on the executive branch on the Senate floor. Alexander said after his speech that he will support the House resolution.
“This declaration is a dangerous precedent,” he said. “Any appreciation for our structure of government means that no president should be able to use the National Emergencies Act to spend money that Congress refuses to provide.”
Only a simple majority is needed to pass the resolution under congressional rules, though Trump has vowed to veto the measure.
The additional Republican defections amount to a growing rebuke to the White House, which sought to persuade the GOP to stick with the president.
Trump continued to pressure Senate Republicans on Thursday morning, tweeting that “a vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!”
On Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence urged senators to stick with Trump.
“A vote against President Trump’s national emergency is a vote against border security,” he said. “Vote down the resolution of disapproval. Stand with the president and stand for border security.“
Earlier this week, Lee and Tillis attempted to reach some sort of deal with the White House to maintain party unity. In exchange for White House support of Lee’s bill to update the National Emergencies Act requiring congressional approval of national emergencies, some Republican senators were willing to consider voting against the House measure.
But Trump told Lee Wednesday that he would not endorse the bill, leaving skeptical Republicans with few options.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.