The GOP-led Senate is on the verge of handing President Donald Trump not one but two rare rebukes from his own party in the same week, a situation that Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called “extraordinary.” According to Politico, 11th-hour meetings between Trump, other White House officials, and GOP Senate leadership collapsed Wednesday night, leading to what could potentially be the first use of Trump’s veto pen during his presidency, twice.
Trump invited several Republican Senators to the White House Wednesday for a talk that was ostensibly about trade, but during which the president reportedly couldn’t refrain from referring to the impending GOP rejection of his national emergency declaration.
“He would like for us to vote against the [resolution]. But he understands and respects that senators may have different opinions,” Said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) “There’s a border crisis and we have to deal with it. But I still have my constitutional concern.”
The second arena in which Senate Republicans have already rejected Trump’s preferred policy action is a Wednesday vote on legislation that would rein in the U.S. military participation in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The U.S. military has been providing support for Saudi forces involved in that horrific conflict, which has already resulted in over 320,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition and thousands of children dying. Estimates of civilian deaths as a result of the fighting and Saudi airstrikes range from 10,000 to 50,000.
According to reports, the president has told allies he is more concerned with the GOP-controlled Senate and his erstwhile allies voting to overturn his national emergency resolution concerning his coveted border wall and doesn’t want to be “embarrassed” by the Senate putting together 60 votes against him. Republican Sens. Susan Collins, (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina) have already come out in favor of the resolution to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, and a number of other GOP senators are on the fence.
Trump was still reaching out to some of those potential fence-sitters as of late in the day Wednesday, reportedly calling Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to talk about his border reforms while Lee was dining with some of his Senate colleagues. During that call, the president stood firmly against supporting compromise emergency reform legislation that would have likely allowed him to save face by preventing an all-out rejection by the Senate and may have persuaded several conservatives to come over to his side.
But while many view the showdown as yet another example of purely political D.C. gamesmanship, some senators saw it as their duty to oppose the president on this, even if he is from their own party.
“Congress should declare war and Congress should spend the money. I mean, those are two bedrock constitutional principles,” Sen. Rand Paul said. “It has nothing to do with the president, it has to do with the Constitution.”