WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday was poised to give final passage to a resolution overturning President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, a bipartisan rebuke of executive overreach that was coming despite the president’s public and private lobbying to stop it.
The afternoon vote would set up the first veto of Mr. Trump’s presidency — on one of the core issues that has animated his political rise, the promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
By Thursday morning, more than a half dozen Republicans had publicly committed to join Senate Democrats in supporting the House-passed resolution of disapproval, even as Mr. Trump warned that such a vote “is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!”
....If, at a later date, Congress wants to update the law, I will support those efforts, but today’s issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2019
Mr. Trump, furiously lobbying against defections, sought to frame the vote publicly as not only a declaration of support for his border security mantra, but a sign of personal loyalty in a time of divided government. On Twitter, he referred to it as a vote “on Border Security & the Wall” and urged Republican senators, “don’t vote with Pelosi!”
But as he railed against the measure, two more Republican senators, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, announced that they would support the resolution of disapproval, joining five other Republican senators: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.
“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,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement. “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.”
Mr. Romney called the resolution “a vote for the Constitution and for the balance of powers that is at its core.”
The vote serves as the first time Congress has sought to end a national emergency order with a resolution of disapproval. And the growing number of Republican defections underscores the turmoil within the Republican Conference, with senators torn between supporting the president’s vision for border security and asserting Congress’s constitutional prerogative to dictate federal spending.
In a volley of phone calls with Senate Republicans over the last few weeks, the president has warned of the electoral consequences of defying his will and dismissed concerns about the constitutional precedent of his order.
But his emergency declaration was the first that a president has made because of a denial of congressional funding.
Three Republican senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Ted Cruz of Texas — interrupted Mr. Trump’s dinner with his wife, Melania, at the White House Wednesday night to share their concerns about the constitutional precedent that Mr. Trump had established. Mr. Graham said he asked for the meeting because he considered Mr. Sasse and Mr. Cruz “good guys” and hoped to limit the number of defections.
“I said there’s some people want to talk to you, they have some concerns about the emergency declaration,” Mr. Graham said in an interview. “Hell, if I was him, I would have told us to go to hell.”
Asked if the meeting resulted in any possibility that Mr. Trump would make accommodations to win more Republicans over to his cause, he answered: “With Trump everything is possible.”