According to media in Kentucky, Senator Rand Paul said on Saturday that he will vote to oppose Donald Trump’s declaration of a border emergency to build a border wall.
Paul’s vote would mean that the resolution to disapprove of the president’s declaration will succeed.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul (R-Ky.) said at an event in Kentucky on Saturday,according to the Bowling Green Daily News. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Paul becomes the fourth Republican senator to pledge to vote for the disapproval resolution when it comes up for a vote in the Senate this month, meaning the resolution will pass if Trump doesn’t withdraw the emergency. The House passed the resolution on Tuesday, with 13 Republicans siding with Democrats. Trump has vowed to veto the resolution, which would be the first of his presidency. Both the House and Senate lack the votes to override the veto.
Paul disagreed with Vice President Mike Pence over the matter at a party lunch last week, Republican senators said. Though both sides deemed it cordial afterward, Paul made an explicit case that his party was risking its claim to the political high ground on issues of constitutional consistency, and Pence pushed back against Paul’s complaints.
Paul’s vote is not surprising given his strict constructionist philosophy. But even if the measure to disapprove of the president’s declaration succeeds, there would have to be several more Republican defections to override Trump’s expected veto.
Whether Trump will face even more defections in the Senate is not clear, but Paul’s decision to become the deciding vote could free other senators to voice their opposition. A significant bloc of Republicans dislike the national emergency, though some senators question whetherthat will translate to “yes” votes on the disapproval resolution.
One GOP senator who supports the national emergency declaration estimated that five to seven Republican would vote to disapprove, though others said the number is likely to be higher. Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mike Lee of Utah are among those deliberating over how to vote.
There would have to be 20 GOP senators defying the president on his border emergency declaration in order to override his veto. That’s not going to happen, so unless there are a lot of closet anti-Trumpers in the Senate, the vote to disapprove of the border emergency will fail.
As far as the border emergency declaration being an election issue in 2020, Democrats should forget it. Building a wall will excite the president’s base, but few other voters care. Democrats will probably have plenty of other issues to run against Trump on.