U.S. senators from the Volunteer State, both Republicans, have staked out opposing positions on the effort to thwart President Donald Trump’s declaration of “national emergency” regarding border enforcement.
The final Senate vote tally on Thursday was 59-41 in favor of blocking Trump’s Feb. 15 emergency declaration. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the resolution last month on a 245–182 vote. Thirteen House Republicans joined all the members of the chamber-controlling Democratic caucus to vote in favor of the measure.
On Friday, President Trump vetoed the legislation. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it,” the president said.
By way of joining 11 other Senate Republicans and all 45 Democrats plus two independents in attempting to scuttle the president’s emergency declaration, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander declared that while he supports Trump in general “on border security,” he believes funding a border wall through national-emergency declaration to be “inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.”
“Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” said Alexander, who announced last year that he’ll not seek re-election in 2020. “The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.”
Marsha Blackburn, a former Tennessee General Assembly lawmaker and congresswoman now in her first year as Tennessee’s first female member of the U.S. Senate, voiced opposition to what she termed, “Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s resolution.”
“I support President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and I reject the resolution of disapproval,” Blackburn said in a March 14 press release statement. Last November, she decisively beat former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, in the general election.
New or Not New Emergency Debate?
Alexander said he believes a “dangerous precedent” is being set by Trump — that future Democrat commanders-in-chief may one day also assert unjustified declarations of national emergency to advance controversial agendas.
“Already, Democrat presidential candidates are saying they would declare emergencies to tear down the existing border wall, take away guns, stop oil exports, shut down offshore drilling and other leftwing enterprises — all without the approval of Congress,” Alexander said.
Blackburn noted that presidential declarations of national emergencies have become commonplace over the past several decades. “(P)residents from both political parties have declared national emergencies in the United States over situations far less dire than the security and humanitarian crisis that is currently plaguing the southern border,” said Blackburn.
“The National Emergencies Act has been used seventeen times by President Bill Clinton, twelve times by President George W. Bush, thirteen times by President Barack Obama, and three times by President Trump,” she said.