In a surprise move, the Senate has voted to end President Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. Trump has vowed to veto the move, with Congress lacking a majority to override him.
The Republican-controlled Senate has voted to terminate US President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency on the border with Mexico — a move he implemented in order to secure funds for a controversial border wall.
The vote in the upper chamber of the US Congress was 59 to 41 — with 12 Senate Republicans joining the Democrats to pass the resolution. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives already passed the resolution in February.
Trump quickly responded to the vote on Twitter, writing one word: "VETO!"
The president previously vowed to veto the measure if it passed both chambers of Congress. Despite Republicans crossing party lines to rebuke Trump, it's unlikely that the US Congress has the two-thirds majority needed to override his decision.
In all probability, the national emergency issue will be ultimately decided by the courts — with two Trump-appointed judges currently sitting on the Supreme Court.
Republicans rebuke Trump
Republicans who voted to end Trump's national emergency at the US southern border said they were worried that future presidents could use the tactic to bypass Congress in order to secure funding for their projects.
In an attempt to sway his fellow Republicans ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that Trump was "operating within existing law." If lawmakers did not like the presidential powers currently granted under the National Emergencies Act, "then they should amend it," he said.
Thursday's vote was the second Senate defeat for Trump this week after lawmakers voted to end US support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen — rejecting Trump's policy toward the kingdom.
It was also the first time that Congress voted to block a presidential emergency since the National Emergencies Act became law in 1976.
Trump's push for a border wall
Trump declared a national emergency on the US southern border in February, after he failed to secure an additional $3.9 billion from Congress to fund a border wall with Mexico — a barrier he'd previously said Mexico would pay for.
The president's budget standoff with Congress led to a 35-day partial government shutdown which ended in January.
Trump has justified declaring an emergency by saying there is a security and humanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico and that a barrier is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Building a border wall was also one of his main campaign promises and one that is likely to reappear during his 2020 re-election campaign.
Opponents of Trump's immigration policies and border wall project argue there isn't an emergency at the border and that illegal crossings are at a four-decade low.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)