Published: Fri, March 29, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

House unable to override Trump veto on border

House unable to override Trump veto on border

The House of Representatives failed to garner enough votes Tuesday to override a veto by U.S. President Donald Trump on his national emergency declaration to build his long-promised U.S. -Mexico border wall.

The Republican-led senate is also unlikely to come up with two-third majority, 66 votes, needed to override the veto when it takes it up for a vote.

Most Republicans, despite concerns about the separate powers of the legislative and executive branches, supported the president's emergency declaration.

Trump declared the national emergency on February 15, after Democrats in Congress blocked his request for $5.7 billion for wall construction.

On March 14, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to disapprove the emergency declaration by 59 votes to 41, in what was a sharp rebuke to Trump.

Opponents of Trump's emergency warned that besides usurping Congress' power over spending, he was inviting future Democratic presidents to circumvent lawmakers by declaring emergencies for their own favoured initiatives.

A coalition of Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit in February to try to block the president's national emergency, so the fight over the issue will continue in federal courts. "We are establishing the intent of Congress", she said at an event in NY last week during the congressional recess.

"We take an oath that we must honor" to protect the Constitution", said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking on her 79th birthday.

Democrats had hoped to peel away more Republicans in the intervening weeks by pointing to a list of projects that could be delayed with the shift in money. The money would be used for border barriers and enhanced security on the U.S. -Mexico border.

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Trump's position was possibly strengthened by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's conclusion after a 22-month investigation that the Republican president's campaign team did not collude with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Whether we can succeed with the number of votes is not the point", Pelosi said at an event in NY. Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro says Trump is guilty of "constitutional vandalism".

The administration plans to use the emergency declaration to redirect US$3.5 billion in funding from military construction projects and tap other funding sources that don't require an emergency declaration.

Fourteen Republicans, a mix of conservatives plus moderates from swing districts, joined all voting Democrats in favor of the override.

"The committee does not approve the proposed use of Department of Defense funds to construct additional physical barriers", the Washington Democrat wrote.

Mr Trump sought US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) in wall funding this year.

Trump plans to use the national emergency as justification to transfer $3.6 billion in military construction funds to projects expanding physical barriers along the southern USA border. Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday. Another 30 would have to defect to override his veto.

Twelve GOP senators, almost 1 in 4, ended up opposing him.

The House seems sure to fall short of the two-thirds margin needed to override vetoes.

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