Pa. U.S. Sens. Casey, Toomey vote to terminate Trump’s emergency border declaration

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania (Capital-Star file)

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s two sitting United States senators helped deliver a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump on Thursday as they voted to approve a resolution to end the controversial national emergency the president declared at the southern border with Mexico.

Toomey, of suburban Allentown, was one of 12 Republicans to join with Democrats in the 59-41 vote to approve the resolution already passed by the majority-Democrat U.S. House. Democrat Bob Casey, the Keystone State’s senior U.S. Senator, also supported the resolution.

However, the vote is mainly symbolic since Trump has said he’ll veto the resolution when it lands on his desk. Trump’s opposition is likely to kill the effort — congressional lawmakers aren’t expected to be able to muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override a White House veto.

Toomey announced well before the vote that he intended to support the resolution. In a statement released by his office after the vote, Toomey said that “well before the president declared this national emergency, I made clear that such a declaration was ill-advised. Our Constitution explicitly gives Congress the responsibility to determine how taxpayer money is used.

“The president’s emergency declaration undermines the fundamental constitutional principle of the separation of powers, and it sets a dangerous precedent that future presidents could use to advance controversial policies,” Toomey said.

He added that he will “continue to support the president’s sensible efforts to secure the southern border. I backed his $5.7 billion request to build 234 miles of physical barriers at the ten most critical locations as determined by our border patrol, and voted last year for $25 billion in border security, including $18 billion specifically to build a physical barrier.”

In addition to Toomey, the 11 Republican senators who voted against Trump were: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

The fate of the resolution in the Senate has been one of the most closely watched political dramas on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. Republicans have faced steady pressure from Trump to oppose the effort to hamstring his emergency declaration.

Speaking to home state reporters on Thursday, Toomey claimed he faced no pressure on his vote.

“In my view, this is a clear misuse of the national emergency declaration and it begs a reform of the national emergency act,” Toomey said, referring to the 1970s vintage law Trump employed for his declaration. Lee, of Utah, is sponsoring a reform measure that would require the White House to seek congressional approval for declarations that last longer than 30 days, The Hill reported.

Trump took to Twitter Thursday to defend the legality of his declaration, which seeks to bypass Congress to obtain funding for a controversial border wall.

“Prominent legal scholars agree that our actions to address the National Emergency at the Southern Border and to protect the American people are both CONSTITUTIONAL and EXPRESSLY authorized by Congress,” Trump wrote.

“A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” he added.

One of the most surprising votes on the Senate floor Thursday came from Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who had previously declared that he’d vote to end the national emergency declaration.

The senator penned an op-ed last month saying he planned to vote against Trump. “As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.”

He later changed his mind, citing a “crisis” at the border Thursday. He welcomed statements from Trump and from the administration that the White House planned to work with Congress to make changes to the National Emergencies Act.

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