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McConnell Still 'Weighing' Legality of Trump's Border Emergency Declaration

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said today that Republicans are "in the process of weighing" the legality of President Trump's national emergency declaration to secure border wall funding.

The House voted 245-182 this evening, with 13 Republicans joining the majority Dems, on a resolution of disapproval to block the declaration, issued by Trump after an appropriations agreement included a fraction of funds he sought for his signature border project.

Once in the Senate, four Republican defectors would be needed to send the bill to President Trump's desk. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have said they will vote for it.

Faced with more disgruntled GOPs, Vice President Mike Pence and a Justice Department lawyer came to the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon today.

"It dominated the entire discussion about the legality, the appropriateness, and all the rest. I think I can safely say my members were extremely interested in the subject, and I personally couldn't handicap the outcome at this point. But, we will certainly be voting on it," McConnell told reporters afterward.

"One thing that's not in debate in our conference is we really do think there's a crisis at the border. It doesn't seem to be any difference of opinion about that," he added. "There are different points of view about how to address that, and all of that will be dealt with publicly on the floor before we have the vote."

Asked if he believes the emergency declaration is legal, McConnell replied, "Well, that's part of what we were discussing today... we had a robust, vigorous discussion about all of that in our conference."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), talking about the upcoming vote with reporters, noted that "we only need one more" Republican to cross over.

"Second, we've heard a lot of talk among our Republican colleagues that they don't like it at all. We know there'll be pressure put upon them," Schumer said. "But third, they understand the Constitution, and they've talked about it for many years when McConnell was there that there shouldn't be overreaching executive power... Sorry, when Obama was there, they talked about it over and over again. This is a far greater overreach than those things."

"And so, I am very hopeful that we will have a very significant number."