The Senate voted to block President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to pay for a wall at the border with Mexico, setting up his first veto and highlighting a growing willingness by Republicans in the chamber to split with their president.
The Senate voted 59-41 for a resolution to halt Trump's emergency order. And besides, the issue here isn't whether there are big problems at the border. Throughout his presidency, he has enjoyed nearly universal support from his party save for a few GOP lawmakers who bucked him in big moments like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and some foreign policy issues.
Trump urged GOP lawmakers against joining Democrats in backing the measure, tweeting Thursday that "a vote for today's resolution by Republican senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, crime and the open border Democrats!"
"It was called turn out the lights, the party's over", said Sen. "Well, that's appropriate right now".
"Congress's vote, even if vetoed, would solidify any court's understanding that the so-called emergency is really part of an end-run around a legislative branch that is unconvinced an emergency exists, that refused to fund the wall, and that is constitutionally in charge of federal spending", he said.
Some Republicans, meanwhile, feared the president's emergency declaration could set a precedent that a future Democratic president might use to evade the will of Congress.
"Democrats and Republicans both know the sad truth: the president did not declare an emergency because there is one", Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who advises GOP leaders. It would have been a good talking point for POTUS: "I'm not against limiting executive emergency powers in principle".
Trump also faces court fights including a lawsuit filed in February by more than a dozen states - including California, Nevada, Maryland and IL - that contend the emergency declaration to unlock more money for the wall violates the Constitution.
The resolution to revoke the declaration passed the House by a margin of 245-182.
Besides Lee, four have said they would vote no: Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., one of the first Republicans to say he'd oppose Trump's border emergency, voted Thursday to support it. Susan Collins of ME, a GOP defector who faces re-election next year in a state that reveres independent streaks in its politicians.
Republicans who voted to end Trump's national emergency at the USA southern border said they were anxious that future presidents could use the tactic to bypass Congress in order to secure funding for their projects.
An administration official said the White House is skeptical there will be enough votes to head off a Senate defeat and is reluctant to back limits on future declarations unless a victory on the resolution is assured.
In other words, the Senate will not be voting on a resolution that is opposed by 80 percent of the American public. That includes on this measure, a pure show vote that he will veto. Ahead of the voting, Trump framed the issue as with-him-or-against-him on border security, a powerful argument with many. Framing Thursday's vote that way seemed to be a message all but aimed directly at undecided GOP senators facing re-election races next year, of whom there are several.
Senator Romney was the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee. It's already clear that Trump's rejection of the measure would be sustained in the Democratic-led House, which lacked a two-thirds majority in approving the resolution last month. "We've never had a president like this".
This is a breaking news story and will be updated. The number of people applying for asylum in Mexico has soared by more than 150 percent since Trump was elected president.
The senator went on to say, "a future President could seize industries. a future President may well say that climate change is a national emergency and use emergency authorities to implement the Green New Deal", referencing a sweeping progressive policy proposal to tackle global warming.
Congress needs a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override a presidential veto, which is viewed as unlikely in this case. "He declared an emergency because he lost in Congress and wants to get around it". He has sought to tap $3.6 billion from military construction projects for the wall he promised to build.