Less than an hour after the vote had taken place in the Senate to reject President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to secure funding for his promised border wall, administration officials were already hatching plans for Trump to sign a veto on camera.
According to a report on CNN, the vote had barely been counted before White House aides were already in the process of hashing out a way they could get the president in front of television cameras for the signing of the first veto of his presidency. The White House is reportedly hoping to have those arrangements in place and ready to go as early as Friday.
The stunning Senate rebuke, which came in at a vote of 59-41 against the president on his long-promised signature policy issue, featured a dozen Republican defectors who voted to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Trump took the extraordinary measure of declaring an emergency in order to get funds to go toward the construction of a border wall after a funding showdown with Congress backfired, resulting in a highly unpopular government shutdown that lasted 35 days.
The emergency declaration was seen by many – even Republicans from both the Senate and the House, who normally vote in lockstep with the president – as a bridge too far, because it involves a usurpation of the constitutional separation of powers. Many conservatives warned against permitting Trump to get away with the highly unusual move for fear that it could set a precedent that a future Democratic president could use to overturn Congressional decisions he or she didn’t agree with.
“Declaring a national emergency to access different funds sets a dangerous new precedent,” said Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on the Senate floor prior to the vote. “It opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want.”
Some Republicans have expressed fears that a Democratic president could conceivably use the emergency declaration to rein in gun ownership, for instance, or to enact sweeping changes to the fight against climate change over the wishes of Congress.
But as embarrassing as the Republican-controlled Senate’s rebuke of Trump’s gambit might be for the president, he does appear to have the power to override Congress in this case, as the Senate currently doesn’t have the required 60 votes to override a presidential veto based on their 59-41 vote on the matter.
Stay tuned to see if and when the Trump team manages to arrange for an on-camera veto signing.