As Congress prepares to pass a resolution to preemptively terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration before he can redirect some $7 billion in military and Treasury Department funding, lawmakers have said that the resolution will likely make it to Trump’s desk, prompting what would be his first veto.
Of course, passing the resolution in the Senate would be impossible without the support of at least a handful of Republicans. And already, several have spoken out to criticize the decision for circumventing Congress, robbing the coffers of the military and setting a dangerous precedent.
While it’s possible (likely, even) that the Ninth Circuit Court will do Congress’s work for them by responding to a lawsuit filed by 16 states challenging the declaration and calling for an injunction to stop construction on over 200 miles of Trump’s border barrier, Congress is moving ahead with its plans to vote on the resolution that Democrats are expected to bring to the floor on Friday. While no GOP senators have publicly said they would oppose the order, the Hill has compiled a list of 10 who are uncomfortable in the measure, and might move to oppose it.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine)
Collins, a top Democratic target in 2020, has warned that the emergency declaration is “of dubious constitutionality” and a “mistake.”
She hasn’t definitively said how she will vote and suggested to reporters Thursday that her decision could swing on how much money Trump plans to redirect through his emergency declaration.
Voting against Trump’s declaration would give her some distance from the president, which could help her politically after she voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Murkowski said last week that the lack of a border wall is not “a matter that should be declared a national emergency.”
She has also said that acting “unilaterally” raises a concern about precedent.
“We don’t know who our next president may be, but it may be a president whose No. 1 priority is dealing with climate change, who says ‘I don’t care whether I have the support of the Congress,'” she said in a CBS interview. “Or a president who may say ‘I believe that gun violence in this country is the most pressing issue and I don’t care whether the Congress supports me or not.'”
She has also voiced anxiety about how the action could erode congressional authority.
Sen. Thom Tillis (NC)
Tillis is another Democratic target in 2020, though his state has voted for the GOP candidate for president in the past two cycles.
He has generally been a strong ally of Trump’s, but he may want to demonstrate independence.
Tillis, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, worries that Trump’s plan to take money from military construction projects for the wall could undermine defense readiness.
He warned in a statement that “it wouldn’t provide enough funding to adequately secure our borders” and “would create a new precedent that a left-wing president would undoubtedly utilize to implement their radical policy agenda while bypassing the authority of Congress.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Alexander, an institutionalist and student of history, is attuned to the constitutional and separation of powers questions raised by Trump’s action.
He’s also retiring, which gives him the freedom to vote his conscience.
Alexander was one of six Republicans who voted last month for a Democratic measure to reopen the federal government without additional funding for the border wall.
On Friday, he called Trump’s action “unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the Constitution,” warning it could set the precedent for a president to declare an emergency to tear down border barriers or close coal plants.
Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.)
Gardner, like Collins, faces reelection next year in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
In a statement, he said Congress is “most appropriately situated to fund border security,” but he hasn’t said how he’d vote on a disapproval resolution.
He is facing pressure from within his state, one of 16 that have filed a lawsuit against Trump’s action. Nearly 100 people gathered outside Gardner’s Fort Collins office Monday to protest Trump’s announcement.
Gardner says he is “currently reviewing the authorities the administration is using.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)
Rubio, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 GOP primary, says he will review the administration’s arguments on its statutory and constitutional powers.
“I am skeptical it will be something I can support,” he has said, noting the precedent it could set.
He warned Monday of its implications for military projects.
“Just as a matter of policy, our military construction budget is already behind schedule compared to where we need to be for some of our facilities around this country, so I think it’s a bad idea,” he said.
Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah)
Romney, one of six Republicans to vote to reopen the government without additional wall funding, last week said he wanted to see what “legislative authority he might cite” before rendering a decision on an emergency declaration.
The Utah senator has harshly criticized Trump, and his national stature as a past GOP presidential nominee has set him up as a rival leader within the party to Trump.
He predicted last month there was a “good chance” Trump would declare an emergency and warned it would set a bad precedent. “We Republicans will be concerned that this kind of approach could be used by perhaps a Democrat president in the future,” he told KSL Newsradio’s “Dave and Dujanovic.”
Sen. Mike Lee (Utah)
Lee said in a tweet Friday that “Congress has been ceding far too much power to the exec. Branch for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunity to start taking that power back.”
A spokesman said Lee is undecided on how to vote on any resolution that comes to the Senate floor.
Lee has been a leading advocate for giving Congress more say over Trump’s authority to use military force.
In December, he was one of seven Republicans who voted for a resolution to end U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s civil war. He co-wrote the resolution with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.)
Moran has quietly emerged as an independent-minded lawmaker who’s willing to buck Trump on big votes.
He also voted with Lee and Collins in December to rein in Trump’s war-making authority, sending a message to Saudi Arabia after the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Moran argues that Trump’s decision could embolden future presidents to circumvent Congress.
“I’m worried that if it gets used this time, what’s the next instance in which it becomes used?” he said last week.
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.)
Paul has emerged as a confidant of Trump’s, but he has also styled himself a constitutionalist throughout his Senate career and regularly bucks his party’s leadership on votes that strike at his core principles.
Paul has warned against circumventing Congress’s power of the purse.
On Thursday, he said he was “disappointed” with the president’s “intention to declare an emergency to build the wall.”
While Paul supports stronger border security, he said “extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them.”
And Paul hasn’t been shy about bucking Trump on other high-profile questions, as shown through his attempt to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
He voted with Lee, Collins and Moran in December to curb the president’s war powers and regularly defends the independence of the separate branches of government.
Assuming no Democratic Senators vote with Republicans, the Dems would need four GOP senators to break ranks and vote to support the resolution to send it on to Trump’s desk (that’s assuming that both of the chamber’s independents who caucus with the Dems support the resolution).