Trump issues first veto - to keep state of emergency

US President Donald Trump signing his veto of the congressional resolution to end his emergency declaration to get funds for a border wall during a ceremony at the Oval Office last Friday. He had already signalled his move, which was expected, on Twi
US President Donald Trump signing his veto of the congressional resolution to end his emergency declaration to get funds for a border wall during a ceremony at the Oval Office last Friday. He had already signalled his move, which was expected, on Twitter after the congressional vote the day before.PHOTO: REUTERS

He rejects Bill overturning his declaration allowing for funds to build wall along border

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump last Friday issued his first veto, rejecting legislation to overturn his declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall along the south-western border.

The Bill had attracted significant Republican support in Congress, a rare and notable departure from partisan solidarity.

"Today, I am vetoing this resolution," Mr Trump told reporters at the Oval Office. "Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it."

The President called the resolution dangerous, reckless and a "vote against reality".

Attorney-General William Barr said the President's emergency order was clearly authorised under the law and solidly grounded in law.

The veto, which was expected, will send the legislation back to Congress, which almost certainly does not have enough votes for an override. That means Mr Trump's declaration will remain in effect.

Democrats were quick to condemn the President's action.

"It is no surprise that the President holds the rule of law and our Constitution in minimal regard," New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, said in a statement. "There is no emergency; Congress has refused to fund his wall multiple times; Mexico won't pay for it; and a bipartisan majority in both Chambers just voted to terminate his fake emergency."

To that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "The House and Senate resoundingly rejected the President's lawless power grab, yet the President has chosen to continue to defy the Constitution, the Congress and the will of the American people."

Mr Trump has long insisted that there was a security and humanitarian crisis at the country's border with Mexico, an assertion that he himself undercut when he acknowledged that he could have waited to issue a declaration.

But last Friday, he offered a flurry of statistics to support his contention, though many were vague.

He blurred numbers that reflected a humanitarian problem with those he said represented a security issue.

Democrats had seized on his earlier words and cited other government data that shows there has been no flood of criminal migrants coming into the United States.

Some Republicans shared that view. But others said they opposed the President on the grounds that it was the duty of Congress to appropriate taxpayer dollars and that Mr Trump had exceeded his authority.

Last Thursday, a dozen Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting to overturn Mr Trump's emergency declaration, 59-41.

Mr Trump has held broad sway over congressional Republicans in his first two years in office.

The decision by the dozen Senate Republicans to side with Democrats on an issue central to the President's agenda was seen as a reclaiming of the role of Congress as a coequal branch of government.

Mr Trump was undeterred by the Republican opposition and quickly signalled his next step when he tweeted "VETO!" after the vote.

The President last Friday said that there was nothing less than an "invasion" of the US by migrants, and he added that so many of them had been apprehended that there was "nowhere left to hold all of the people that we're capturing".

Even if Congress fails to override the veto, the declaration is already drawing court challenges.

A coalition of 20 states, including California and New York, sued last month over Mr Trump's use of emergency powers, arguing that the President does not have the authority to divert funds for building a wall along the Mexican border because it is Congress that controls spending.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 17, 2019, with the headline 'Trump issues first veto - to keep state of emergency'. Print Edition | Subscribe