Trump issues first veto after rebuke of border order

  • President Donald Trump signs the first veto of his presidency in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Washington. Trump issued the first veto, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

  • Trump

  • President Donald Trump speaks about border security in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Washington. Trump issued the first veto of his presidency, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

Published: 3/15/2019 5:37:11 PM

President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overruling Congress to protect the emergency declaration he’d used to circumvent lawmakers to build his border wall.

Flanked by law enforcement officials as well as the parents of children killed by people in the country illegally, Trump maintained that he is not through fighting for his signature campaign promise, which stands largely unfulfilled 18 months before voters decide whether to grant him another term.

“Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution,” Trump said, “and I have the duty to veto it.”

A dozen defecting Republicans joined Senate Democrats in approving the joint resolution on Thursday, which capped a week of confrontation with the White House as both parties in Congress strained to exert their power in new ways. It is unlikely that Congress will have the two-thirds majority required to override Trump’s veto, though House Democrats will try nonetheless.

Despite the sharp rebuke from Congress, Friday’s event had the victory lap feel of a bill-signing ceremony. Trump was surrounded in the Oval Office by supporters who offered profuse thanks and frequent applause. After many had spoken, Trump dramatically signed his veto message and then held the document up for the cameras to capture.

He then distributed pens as mementos of the occasion.

Trump wants to use the emergency order to divert billions of federal dollars earmarked for defense spending toward the southern border wall. It still faces several legal challenges from Democratic state attorneys general and environmental groups who argue the emergency declaration was unconstitutional.

Those cases could block Trump from diverting extra money to barrier construction for months or longer. American Civil Liberties Union, which filed one of the cases, said the veto is meaningless, like the declaration in the first place.

“Congress has rejected the president’s declaration, and now the courts will be the ultimate arbiter of its legality. We look forward to seeing him in court and to the shellacking that he will receive at the hands of an independent judiciary,” said Executive Director Anthony Romero.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s veto a “lawless power grab,” and railed that, even after both chambers tried to stop him, Trump “has chosen to continue to defy the Constitution, the Congress and the will of the American people.”

Trump, however, insisted the situation on the southern border is “a tremendous national emergency,” adding, “our immigration system is stretched beyond the breaking point.”

Two years into the Trump era, a dozen Republicans, pushed along by Democrats, showed new willingness to take the political risk of defecting. The 12 GOP senators, including the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney of Utah, joined the dissent over the emergency declaration order that would enable the president to seize for the wall billions of dollars Congress intended to be spent elsewhere.

“The Senate’s waking up a little bit to our responsibilities,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said the chamber had become “a little lazy” as an equal branch of government. “I think the value of these last few weeks is to remind the Senate of our constitutional place.”




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