Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) has conceded that there is enough Republican resistance in the Senate to block Trump’s border emergency declaration. To be clear, McConnell is still firmly in the president’s camp and, despite early trepidation, has been supportive of the declaration. But he can’t hold back the swelling tide.
So how did we get here? Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is known for his libertarian leanings, has announced that he will support efforts to block funding. So too will three moderate Republicans: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Assuming that Democrats and their allies can present a united front with 47 votes, those four Republican votes will be enough to pass a resolution. With the House firmly under Democratic control, they will almost certainly pass a resolution to block the emergency declaration.
So what will happen next? Trump will cast his first veto, itself a major milestone for his administration. The House will then almost certainly vote to override the veto. However, unless there are mass GOP defections, the Senate won’t vote to override the veto.
Most likely, Congress will fail in its efforts to overturn President Trump’s emergency declaration. Still, the efforts could strengthen already emerging legal challenges. Under the Constitution, Congress alone has the sole ability to set funding. The president can shuffle funding around in the face of an emergency, but this has generally been viewed as a stopgap until Congress can step in and allocate funding.
By rejecting the president’s declaration, Congress will send a message loud and clear that it does not approve of the funding appropriations. This, in turn, could strengthen claims that the president is acting unconstitutionally in his efforts to divert funding.