Bucking back at the Republican-controlled Senate that voted to reject the national emergency declaration to secure funding to construct hundreds of miles of wall at the southern border, President Donald Trump issued his first-ever veto on Friday. Flanked by Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the commander in chief added that Congress’ rebuke “would put countless Americans in danger.”
The U.S. Senate blocked the president’s emergency declaration in a 59-41 vote on Thursday afternoon, with 12 Republicans joining the minority Democratic bloc.
“The Democrat-sponsored resolution would terminate vital border security operations by revoking the national emergency issued last month,” the president said in his remarks. “It is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency.”
Trump said he vetoed the “reckless resolution” because Congress’ action was a “vote to deny the crisis on the southern border” and was a “vote against reality.”
“It’s against reality. It is a tremendous national emergency. It is a tremendous crisis,” the president added.
Although lawmakers, including some Republicans, have criticized President Trump’s use of his national emergency powers to gather nearly $8 billion in funding from pockets of federal money dedicated to other projects, the Department of Justice led by recently-confirmed Attorney General Barr, set forth a robust defense of the president’s authority to do so in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) earlier this month, CNN reports.
“The President acted well within his discretion in declaring a national emergency concerning the southern border,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, laying forth a legal basis for the proclamation under the National Emergencies Act and additional statutory authorities.
“The President’s emergency Proclamation reasonably described the current situation as an ongoing ‘border security and humanitarian crisis,'” he added. “The crisis at the border…may qualify as an emergency even though it, too, is not entirely new.”
The resolution will now be sent back to the U.S. House of Representatives, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), a staunch Trump ally, has reiterated that Congress’ lower chamber will not muster the two-thirds vote necessary to overturn the president’s veto.